EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS AND EQUALITY TRAINING FOR MIGRANT WORKERS
S@W understands that migrant workers are exposed to a higher level of exploitation than their fellow UK, English speaker workers. The language barrier, the financial difficulties many of them suffer when entering the country and the lack of knowledge of the legislation make this group of workers highly vulnerable. Migrant workers are more likely to be employed in low pay jobs, to suffer from discrimination at the workplace and to be victims of human trafficking.
The first training session was organised in 2017 in cooperation with “Migrant Pride” , an association of Spanish speaker workers based in Edinburgh. In April 2019 ,S@W along with Better that Zero Campaign organised a training session for Spanish speakers workers . The training covered basic employment law and it was attended by 15 hospitality workers.
In August 2019, S@W organised a third training session for Spanish speaker workers. The session attended by 11 people (9 women and 1 man) , covered basic employment rights and equality issues in the workplace . Attendants’ feedback of the session was very positive, they reported that accessing basic but fundamental information about employment law and the Equality Act, had empowered them and motivated them to organise their workplaces.
In November 2019 S@W along with Feniks, organised a third training session for Polish workers, focussed on basic employment rights and mental health issues at the workplace . The event was again well attended and received very positive feedback. It set a cooperation plan between the two organisations for further/future training sessions.
During lockdown S@W managed to deliver two training sessions on employment rights for Spanish speaker workers , one of the sessions was organised in cooperation with SCP, Spanish Communist Party. Delivering training online was a challenge due to the lack of logistics to address simultaneous interpretation, however, the feedback from the workers attending the events was very positive.
S@W has delivered two training sessions in 2023. The first session of this year was provided for Spanish workers (11 attendants) and the second session was provided for Ukranians workers in cooperation with Volunteer Edinburgh and SOHTIS ( Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland). The session for Ukranians workers was attended by 20 people.
Training has taken place face to face again after a gap of a couple of years. We had to adapt the material and activities for this format. In our experience , face to face training enables for a greater participation of attendants, encourages discussion and questions from participants.
EU migrants currently have to face the restrictions imposed by Brexit that are often unknown and/or confusing not only for migrant workers themselves , but also for employers. Some migrant workers arrive in the UK without being aware that they are not free to move in or/and to work in the UK anymore. Once they are here,they struggle to sort out the paperwork for pre-settled or settled status because they can not communicate effectively with the appropriate bodies and organisations. S@W has been made aware of cases of Spanish workers who have been unlawfully engaged in a workplace and had to leave after a month’s work without pay.
In the case of Ukrainian workers we have become aware that they are vulnerable to suffer from labour slavery and human trafficking. We are working with SOHTIS in order to craft a joint training session to address basic employment rights and to identify “red flags’ ‘ /unlawful practices of which Ukranians workers are often victims of.
Training sessions generate a substantial volume of case work for our staff, but also provide migrant workers with the necessary tools to thrive in our society. The best example of this is Valeria. Valeria, a Equatorial Guinea woman who after the session decided to become a union member . Valeria was supported by S@W to join the union. Valeria is still a member. Since this initial contact with Valeria , another two Equatorial Guinea workers , Jacobo and Cristina have contacted S@W in order to seek support and advice regarding workplace issues and to join the union. Valeria, Jacobo and Crisitna, reported that they had suffered discrimination at the workplace because of the language barrier and also because of the colour of their skin.
In 2022 Valeria, with the support of S@W, participated in the Edinburgh City Council “Gig Economy Task Force” that produced a report in March. The report included a list of recommendations in order to improve Rights, Terms and Conditions for workers in vulnerable situations and poor contracts.
Valeria is currently taking part in the Fair Work Convention Inquiry on Hospitality.
S@W is convinced that the key to reduce exploitation and to improve the working conditions of migrant workers is investing resources in training and education for workers and young people who will join the labour market in the years to come. Knowing your rights empower workers to organise and stand up for themselves against poor terms and conditions exploitation and abuse.
FAIR WORK PRINCIPLES
S@W is a strong advocate for Fair Work principles of effective voice, opportunity , fulfilment , respect and security.
We believe that workers can only have an effective voice if they are aware of their rights at the workplace. The right to be a union member being one of them. We encourage attendees to join the union and to organise in the workplace.
Part of our training covers rights during selection/interviews process and probation periods , and appraisals processes. It is our understanding that well informed workers would be able to ascertain their rights not to be discriminated against while accessing work, maintaining employment and/or progressing in their careers.
WORKING WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS. OUTREACH WORK
Part of the role of our outreach worker is to contact migrant communities directly , especially Spanish speaker communities. This outreach work is quite time consuming because it includes direct contact with workers plus liaising work with other organisations which provide support and advice to this community (Oficina Precaria, CRE) .
In order to outreach a variety of migrant communities S@W relies on other organisations to reach out participants and advertise the training sessions. Building up relationships with migrant communities and the organisations that support them is essential for S@W training program. This work is also time consuming since S@W always tries to craft the training in line with the issues that affect the variety of communities, for example while providing training for Ukrainian workers we included a section in the training regarding “red flags” for human trafficking . Going forward we are now in discussion on how to develop this section further and how to involve other agencies in the session if necessary .
Unfortunately , S@W has limited resources to provide support and advice to workers who don’t speak English or struggle to communicate English on a case work basis. This lack of funding limits the number of case work that we could take on. The training sessions allow S@W to provide information about Unions and other organisations with better resources to cover a wide range of services.
TRAINING PROGRAM 2023
Our training sessions are currently provided as half a day sessions. The sessions are dynamic since we encourage from the beginning the participation of attendees through activities and case scenario discussions. We encourage questions and comments from participants all through the session.
Summer /Spring 2023 training session for Ukrainian workers in cooperation with Volunteer Edinburgh and SOHTIS. Training sesion for Polish workers in cooperation with Citizen Rights on the 16th of June
Autumn 2023 Training session for Spanish speaker workers in cooperation with CRE.