Strippers union UVW and sex worker advocacy group Decrim Now are celebrating after a judge at an employment tribunal ruled that dancers in London strip clubs Browns and Horns have worker status. Until now, dancers were misclassified as ‘independent contractors’, which means they had no access to even the most basic rights at work. The new ruling now opens the door for dancers to claim workers’ rights such as paid annual leave, a guaranteed pay for all hours worked, the right to take maternity or sick leave without the risk of termination, protection against workplace harassment and the right to organise through a trade union. The club owners defended their claim that the dancers were not workers, but the tribunal rejected this claim.
Decrim Now and the union work in close coalition, alongside other feminist groups, to campaign for worker status for all eligible dancers.
Shiri Shalmy, union organiser for the strippers branch, said:
“This is a significant victory for the strippers union and all workers in the gig economy. Our members, organising in strip clubs and pubs across the UK, are delighted by the ruling and inspired to increase their unionising efforts. We look forward to working together with the club owners on implementing the small adjustments that would make Browns and Horns the first workplaces where dancers have proper rights at work.”
The victory comes just before Sunday’s Sex/Work Strike, which will see sex workers around the world refusing to do sex/work for money in protest against the sexist, racist and violent laws that criminalise their work and jeopardise their lives.
Ava Caradonna, an organiser with Decrim Now, said:
“Decrim Now is delighted by [today’s] verdict – it is our first big victory for our legal strategy. Decrim Now has always seen sex workers’ struggle for decriminalisation and safety as intertwined with workplace organising, and this verdict shows that when we organise, we win. Sex workers deserve workers’ rights like all other workers, and these demands are increasingly unignorable“.
A United Stripper’s flyer about workers’ rights for strip club workers (including FAQ) can be found here.
Photo Credit: UVW twitter