The West has an ego about its ability to provide for its citizens. The UK is no exception. Despite this ego, London, as Charles Dickens wrote, tells a “tale of two cities” – meaning the divide between the rich and the poor forms almost two completely separate worlds and living experiences. In London, 21 %of people working are paid less than the London Living Wage, and 18% of all jobs in London are considered low-paid.
In the category of low pay, ethnicity pays a large factor, even in the diverse city of London. Though white people make up a larger proportion of the population, and thus do make up a large proportion of the low-paid in the work force, people of color are much more likely to have low paid jobs. Among the Bangladeshi population, 52% are likely to have low paid jobs. Pakistani and Black populations have 37% and 33% respectively in low paid jobs. White British and Other White populations have a low pay rate of 18% and 24% respectively.
52% of the Bangladeshi population are low paid, along with 37% of the Pakistani and 33% of the Black population in London against only 18% of the White British population.
Living in the West, the pay divide between ethnicities is often overshadowed by the gender divide within the white population. And yes, we need to desperately talk about the gender pay gap, but not without mentioning the Black women who have the largest longtime pay gap of all time in the UK or the Bangladeshi and Pakistani women who have the largest overall pay gap.
The divide between the rich and the poor in London, and the gender and ethnic divide which comes with it, has had disastrous consequences on the working class.
On June the 14th, Grenfell Tower – a 24 storey social housing building in West London, caught fire. At the time of writing, over 58 people are missing and unaccounted for, with almost 400 people officially reported missing. The death toll has been confirmed to be rising. In the days since the disaster, huge amounts of media attention has been directed at the tragedy.
It has been reported that the residents of Grenfell had complained about the state of the building as long as multiple times, but were ignored. Some were even threatened with legal action. It has also been recently confirmed that the cladding used in the building is banned in the UK.
Due to this horrifying incident, protests have broken out in London. Frustrated protesters stormed the town hall in Kensington screaming for justice, and even went as far as Downing Street. Some say this issue is being too intimately linked with politics – but what else is it if not a political issue?
London is the most diverse city in the UK, and the people who give the UK its diversity and culture are being exploited.
London is one of the most diverse cities in the UK, and the people who give the UK its diversity and culture are being exploited. Grenfell tower makes up part of the London working class – full of migrants and British people of color. Those who announced the fire and helped people escape were Muslims who were still awake due to Ramadan, and the Muslim community continues to provide aid in the form of food, water and clothes.
The people of Grenfell tower have been silenced and ignored by the bureaucrats of London, and those who survived and those around them have every right to be angry. Grenfell is one of the worst avoidable disasters in British history, and it is no coincidence that it happened to most exploited communities.
Kensington Council and Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, are the most highly criticized in the political aftermath of the tragedy. May refused to meet the victims of the disaster due to “safety concerns” while opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and even the Queen herself put their own safety concerns behind the concerns of those who have no longer have anywhere to be safe. Since then, Theresa May has invited those involved in the disaster to Downing Street where they have been able to express their frustration to her directly.
Families in the Grenfell disaster are to receive £5,500 in emergency funds.
It has been recently announced that the families involved in the Grenfell disaster are to receive £5,500 in compensation from a £5m strong relief fund revealed by Theresa May. It is possible that this seemingly compassionate offer may have an element of performance, as it was announced firstly to the public and not to the victims of the tragedy themselves.
This tragedy, its victims, and the public have put enough pressure on Theresa May to promote change, and I think that this is something people will not forget. We will not forget Grenfell or the people who lost their lives due to disregard for the working class, people of color, the Muslim and the immigrant population. The discontent in even just the general public in the aftermath will hopefully continue to promote change and ensure that no disaster of this kind ever happens again.
We will not forget Grenfell or the people who lost their lives due to disregard for the working class, the people of color, the Muslim and the immigrant population.