Black immigrants in the British labour market: An analysis of the background to immigration and patterns of employment of black workers and some proposals for future reform.

  • Bulumko Vuyani Msengana

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In presenting a thesis on employment patterns of New Commonwealth immigrant workers in Great Britain, the object is to bring together in a coherent whole the history of immigration from the New Common-wealth to this country; legislation affecting New Commonwealth immigrant workers in Britain; the position of these workers in the British labour market; trade union policy and practice towards black workers; and theories of economic discrimination and empirical evidence of racial discrimination in the British labour market. Immigration from the New Commonwealth is discussed in this thesis in the historical context in order to set the basis for the consideration of the position of black workers in the British labour market. This compels a consideration of immigration control and anti-discrimination legislation to discover why such legislation was passed by the British Parliament; what the objectives of the legislation were, whether they have been achieved; and to suggest areas of change and improvement in policy. One of the main aims of the immigration legislation is the control of the inflow of New Commonwealth immigrants into Great Britain. The objective of anti-discrimination legislation is to promote a more equitable distribution of employment and career opportunities for those groups in society who are discriminated against because of colour, race, or ethnic origin. The thesis then proceeds to consider the position of New immigrant workers in the British labour market and to discover to what extent the different industrial and occupational distribution of black workers may reflect discriminatory practices in the labour market. Since there are obvious difficulties in trying to isolate the extent of discrimination at the macro-level, detailed analysis of the operation of the local labour markets and individual enterprises and establishments becomes crucial. The thesis therefore includes an empirical study carried out by the author between 1977 and 1980 showing the experience of black workers and employers of black workers as they reported it, a study which demonstrates the difficulties involved in measuring discrimination with any great degree of precision. Given that trade unions are said to be important mechanisms for integrating workers into society, the thesis considers trade union policy and practice with regard to New Commonwealth immigrant workers to discover whether or not policy and practice have been in step. The economic theory of racial discrimination is examined in relation to the anti-discrimination legislation in Great Britain and the contribution of theory to the measurement and identification of racial discrimination in the labour market is considered. The main conclusions are brought together in the final chapter and a number of proposals are discussed which might be utilised to assist New Commonwealth Immigrant workers.
Date of Award1980
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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