In evidence to an employment tribunal, Francis Birmingham is claiming that his white colleagues are paid more for the same work. Mr Birmingham, who has worked for lighting engineer Parkersell Highway Services since 1994, alleges that a white colleague whom he trained now receives a salary pounds 800 greater than his own.
Mr Birmingham, who earns pounds 12, 514 a year, says that four of the 15 other lighting engineers at the company's depot in Clapham, south London, are from ethnic minorities. "There is a lot of favouritism going on. The white workers are paid monthly bonuses and we are not. They are also offered to take the vehicles home," he says. He names four white maintenance engineers, less experienced than himself but all on better pay.
If Mr Birmingham wins his case it will be the first time a member of an ethnic minority has won a case for equal pay because of race discrimination. The only other British employees to have attempted it were a group of white workers who in 1997 tried to bring a case against a company which employed Japanese secondees. Their tribunal ruled that the difference in pay was not down to race but because the Japanese workers were secondees from abroad.
The managing director of Parkersell was unavailable for comment.