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Everyone Counts: The Invisible Workers in Nightshift Cities

March 1, 2022 - The Press Release of the Nightworker Charter

Published onMar 01, 2022
Everyone Counts: The Invisible Workers in Nightshift Cities

The world of work is in urgent need of transformation. Yet, you can’t transform anything until you find out what needs to be repaired and renewed. 

No deep transformation happens without reparation.

March 1, 2022

Today, the United Nations (UN) celebrates Zero Discrimination Day – the global observance of the unwritten law that everyone counts in our societies, regardless of their skin colour, gender, skill level, education, and beliefs. 

The Nightworker Charter stresses the need to recognise the contribution of nightworkers in our societies, thus put nighttime workers on equal footing with daytime workers. Hence, this press release is happening on March 1st to celebrate the strategic role that nightworkers have in keeping societies going round-the-clock, and thus their right to dignifying working conditions. Besides, unlike any bank holiday, March 1st is set as a global observance day by the UN, celebrated through work, not rest. More importantly, the UN Zero Discrimination Day is symbolised through wearing a butterfly, as a sign of change, hope, renewal – that is, transformation. Transform night workplaces by upholding the basic rights of nightworkers to live and work in dignity.

Think of Nightwork.

It has been part of many industries and services, such as transport, communication, fire brigades, police, the army, and hospitals. Working in the evenings or at night is not a new phenomenon, yet it is an essential form of work to the functioning of our around-the-clock societies. Nevertheless, the current labour system in developed societies has been designed for daytime work. That explains why nightwork erroneously appears to be a supplement to daytime labour and why the problems with nightwork are rarely fixed. Recognising that nightwork is its own form of work with specific dynamics and problems, especially in post-industrial countries, is long overdue. 

Think of Nightworkers.

There are millions of people, including migrants and People of Colour, who work the ‘graveyard’ shift and because of it, experience tremendous health impacts, isolation, and exclusion from the mainstream society. 

Nightworkers are the ‘other’ workers to the ‘9-5ers’ (Bianchini, 1995). Blue Mondays in 9-to-5 day jobs are a grind but waking up in the evenings or in the middle of the night to go to work is simply dreadful. Eating fast food due to lack of night-time eating options is unhealthy and working all night disrupts the circadian and biological rhythms that let us to know to sleep when it’s dark and stay awake in daylight. Not being able to socialise with friends during the daytime and evenings marginalises nightworkers even further. 

Moreover, nightworkers frequently live on the margins of mainstream society, which makes them unavailable to their friends, unable to attend family events and absent from the minds that lead governments and ministries to tackle problems in other forms of work. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how across the European Union (EU) and in the United Kingdom (UK), despite their strategic roles in the functioning of national economies, nightworkers have been excluded from political agendas and public debates about who is (or not) an ‘essential’ or ‘key’ worker. Nightworkers deserve a better social contract – better food, sleep, remuneration, transport, and rest places when they toil at night.

These ‘other 9-5’ workers represent more to developed societies than bio-automatons. Their bodies are left spent and exhausted by the merciless 24/7 demand for manual labour that keeps the world going around the clock, even in times of crisis. There is a pressing demand for a new set of arrangements that address the specific problems with nightwork. That is why you should take interest and assist this open, democratic process to improve the lives of nightworkers. Let’s repair together a broken labour system that causes suffering to millions of nightworkers and their families and friends. 

This Nightworker Charter’s role offers fresh and concrete ways (how) to recognise, (what) to address, and (who could and should) repair the problems with nightwork. Join many others and become one of the signatories by supporting the Nightworker Charter.

What is the Nightworker Charter?

The Nightworker Charter seeks to improve the working conditions of nightworkers. 

The Nightworker Charter gives nightworkers the voice and tools to gain recognition for their many contributions to national economies.

What does the Nightworker Charter do?

The Nightworker Charter offers practical solutions to improve nightworkers' working conditions on the basis that all relevant stakeholders:

  1. Recognise the problems specific to nightwork

  2. Address the multi-layered precarity associated with nightwork

  3. Make nightwork a stand-alone form of work in legal terms

Why is the Nightworker Charter relevant now?

Nightworkers play a crucial role in supporting night-time economies (NTE), day workers, and national economies throughout Europe. Yet today we all face a health crisis. This Nightworker Charter represents solidarity with nightshift workers, be they the frontline or even the ‘non-essential’ workers who have help us get through this awful period. The Nightworker Charter begins a reparation process that defends nightworkers’ rights embedded within current constitutional arrangements but are hardly ever implemented.

Why initiate it, and how did the Nightworker Charter come about?

For the past decade, I have reached out to people inhabiting the night. I do this in my various capacities: night ethnographer, migration scholar, outreach worker, and collaborator with NGOs working with vulnerable groups. I do this because I care about the vulnerable migrants or locals doing hidden, yet essential labour – and that’s why I think you should help. 

The ideas behind this Nightworker Charter have developed through my conversations with individuals and organisations who also care about those working the invisible nightshift. The Nightworker Charter remains open to collaboration with individuals and organisations pledging to improve conditions for those who work nights.

How can you get involved?

Individuals and organisations are invited to sign this charter and invite others to do the same. Recommend the charter to unions, labour organisations, employers, local and regional councillors, and health and safety organisations.

In solidarity with nightshift workers,

Julius-Cezar MacQuarie c/o Nightworker Charter

[email protected] | [email protected] 

More Information

You can read about the Nightworker Charter online at: 

For questions regarding the Nightworker Charter, please contact the address above, email [email protected], or by phone at +44 7412 802 447

Creative Commons Attributions

Thumbnail images are the property of the author. The heading image, entitled "night industry" by klugi, is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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