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Campaign groups and collectives like Decrim Now and SWARM are calling for full decriminalization , but in the meantime strippers—whose work is entirely legal—are unionizing in the hopes of sparking industry-wide change.
Dancers can also be fined for not showing up to shifts, and Shalmy says anecdotally that she knows of dancers who have been fired for trying to unionize. What we do is provide the legal support and the organizing experience. Louise asked to use her stripper name as she is not out to her friends and family.
In Scotland, a recent vote to develop a version of the so-called Nordic model—a widely-criticized framework that criminalizes clients but not sex workers—has led to sex workers unionizing with the support of trade union GMB Scotland. Our aim is to show that sex work is work, and to fight for a legislative framework which gives those workers access to the same rights we all rely on.
Sex worker Megara Furie also played a key role in fighting for unionization. Similar sex worker unions are cropping up across the world. OTRAS is a particularly high-profile example. Outside of Europe, countries like Argentina have extensive histories of sex worker unionization.
But trade unions in the UK have a specific history. The general consensus among unions is that this approach no longer works. A gradual shift towards zero-hour contracts have made workplace rights the exception as opposed to the rule; as a result, unions are becoming more vocal and more demanding.