By Zac Downs - 08 October 2018
Work Rights Centre launches UK’s first multi-lingual introduction to Employment Rights
The Work Rights Centre launches today the UK’s first comprehensive introduction to employment rights. Narrated in English with subtitles in 20 languages, the 3-minute animation reaches out to all British and migrant workers with one message: everyone has the right to work that is fair, safe, and that pays.
The project is a collaboration between artists and service providers at the Work Rights Centre (WoRC), who share a commitment to social justice. Directed by critically acclaimed theatre director Sînziana Koenig, with a custom soundtrack and hand-drawn animation, it offers a step-by-step guide to employment justice, and encourages viewers to take action regardless of their age, pay, or nationality.
The clip begins with an outline of the different employment statuses in the UK, drawing attention to the limitations inherent in non-standard employment. It then guides viewers through the key stages of taking action, contrasting the pathways available to workers with those open to the self-employed.
Olivia Vicol, Chair of Trustees and co-founder of the charity, summarised the mission of the project as such: ‘We live in a time when ever more people take up positions which are short-term, flexible, and marked by managerial hierarchies and contractual arrangements so confusing that employment rights breaches become an everyday occurrence. More worryingly, this is also a time of severe cuts to legal aid, to public services, and to wages, making everyday abuses such as non-payment simply appear as too much to challenge. This introductory animation encourages viewers to demand more. While it cannot replace legal advice and good governance, we hope that it sends the message that everyone deserves work that is fair, safe, and that pays.’
The aesthetic and register adopted throughout are intentionally warm. As director Sînziana Koenig, describes it: ‘We wanted this project to speak to everyone. We wanted to be inclusive and represent the vast majority of people who experience everyday precarity across all ages, backgrounds and employment statuses’.
This project has been funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for Brent Council. In addition to the animation, the award sponsored the delivery of six multi-lingual employment rights workshops over the summer of 2018. Together, they raise awareness of employment rights, and prompt the borough’s diverse communities, partner organisations, and stakeholders across the third sector, to join forces in combatting precarious work.
About the authors
Sînziana Koenig is a theatre director and playwright who co-founded BÉZNĂ Theatre, an award-winning British-Romanian political theatre collective formed in 2013. To date, BÉZNĂ Theatre has produced 6 critically acclaimed theatre productions and run 9 educational programmes, which use the expressive power of art to explore urgent socio-political issues which range from gender violence to climate change.
Catalina Matamoros is an award-winning animator and illustrator from Colombia. With past awards at the Parisian film festival Nos Yeux Grand Ouverts, her latest film ‘We are the immigrants’ was a finalist at the Ibero American Animation Quirino Awards, and has been shown in several festivals around de world. Catalina aims to combine her background in design with animation, to create meaningful stories.
Daniel Balfour is a British sound designer specialised in theatre. Having worked on productions staged at the Old Vic, the Nottingham Playhouse, and a range of international theatres, he holds the nomination for best sound design in the 2018 Off West End Theatre Awards.
Lizzie Clarke is a London-based actress who trained at the prestigious Drama Centre London. She received the Acting Excellence Award from The Stage for her work in Molly at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and her starring role in the short film Rocket earned it the Best Narrative Film Medal at the Student Academy Awards, as well as multiple awards at festivals in 8 countries. Her television work includes Doctors and Holby City for the BBC and Watership Down for Netflix.
Olivia Vicol is a co-founder and Chair of Trustees at the Work Rights Centre. An anthropologist with a PhD from Oxford University, she started the charity while researching Romanian migrants’ encounters with precarious work in London. By founding WoRC, Olivia seeks to combine the critical voice of academic writing with the power of local organisations to affect social change.
About the Work Rights Centre
The Work Rights Centre (WoRC) is a registered charity (No. 1165419) with a mission to combat in-work poverty by tackling precarious work: poorly paid, unprotected, and insecure positions, which deprive workers of the social protections traditionally associated with employment. Every week at the Employment Rights Clinic a multi-lingual team tackle cases of severe employment rights breaches, such as non-payment and workplace discrimination, and support anyone who wishes to improve their mobility with CVs, interview practice, and referrals to ESOL classes and other forms of training.
The charity was founded in 2016 and welcomed the first beneficiaries in June that same year. Having started the first Employment Rights Clinic in Wembley Library, Brent Civic Centre, from October 2018 it will also be extending its service to Barking. To date, WoRC has advised over 300 service users, and recovered over £13,000 in unpaid wages.
The employment rights primer is WoRC’s second initiative of complementing direct service provision at the Clinic, with self-assessment tools designed to bring employment rights to the attention of a wider audience. An online questionnaire that helps respondents determine their employment status by breaking down legal indicators has also been available on the charity’s website since 2016. Multi-lingual flyers that contrast the rights associated with various statuses are distributed for free to beneficiaries and partner organisations.
The charity is currently funded by the generous support of the Trust for London, The London Community Foundation, the Brent Community Advice Network, as well as a number of direct donations. Past grant makers have included the Ratiu Foundation. We are grateful for all of their support.← News