Apologies for sending you unsolicited mail; I’ll try to keep this brief. I just want to quickly draw your attention to the various benefits of joining the GMB sex workers union. (I’m a member of the union, but I’m not on commission or anything; I’m honestly just writing because I think this is important and you might find it useful.) Here’s some quick and dirty bullet points:
i. Free legal advice from a friendly solicitor; free tax and pensions advice from the GMB tax and pensions experts (exciting right?); free self-defense classes and English lessons.
ii. Health insurance! Sick pay if for any reason you temporarily can’t work.
iii. If you have another job, and you’re fired from it because they find out about your adult employment, the GMB can pursue a case of unfair dismissal, and win you compensation and an apology. Yay! They can also go after the tabloids on your behalf if you’re outed in the press.
All of the above are kind of predicated on not-good, very-bad scenarios: tabloid frenzy! Workplace discrimination! Ill-health! Important, yes, but a wee bit of a downer. Here’s some positive stuff to finish on:
i. Have a safe space in which to meet other sex workers and just talk about your day ( … and the problems of coming out to a new boyfriend, and hilarious shit clients say, and where to buy nice underwear, and, and – the list is potentially endless. I think in more, um, office-y workplaces, they call some of this ‘sharing best practise’.)
ii. Be recognised as a real worker and real trade unionist. The trade union movement in this country is still one of the most powerful forces for positive change that we have, and has a long history of improving workplace conditions and successfully fighting for the rights of workers – even in contexts where improvement seemed so difficult as to be impossible – until those changes happened. Improving the working conditions of people in the sex industry is a pretty fucking difficult proposition, but jesus, aren’t we quite resourceful? I think so.
This is particularly important in Scotland, because there are reliable rumours that a bill criminalising the purchase of sex is going to be put before the Scottish parliament at some point in the autumn. This will drive away good clients – making money more difficult to earn – while increasing the chance of violence against us, as the clients who remain will be the ones for whom a potential criminal record is not a concern. Furthermore, it is offensive and patronising that lawmakers in Holyrood think they can legislate to ‘rescue’ us, without bothering to enquire what we actually need. I might think that exploitation occurs within the garment industry, but I wouldn’t therefore attempt to make the purchase of clothes illegal: especially if actual textile workers were telling me that my legislation would make their lives more difficult. ‘Nothing about us without us’ shouldn’t be such a controversial or difficult-to-grasp concept for MSPs, and unionising amplifies our voices.
Here’s the detail: joining the GMB sex worker union costs £6.50 a month, which can be paid by cash, direct debit or cheque. You can join under your working name, your real name, or any pseudonym, and there’s no need to prove your identity. To join, contact [email address], and drop me a line too, because I’m your regional representative and so we can sort out doing stuff in Scotland. (Keith’s in London, at the GMB main offices.)
Thank you for reading this. Take care.