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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Sex workers get union recognition to defend rights

This news post is over 5 years old

They need protection campaigners say

Formal union recognition for sex workers will protect them from abuse and help defend their rights, camapigners claim.

It comes as the GMB union says it will set up an adult entertainment section, to defend the workers as well as campaigning to decriminalise the industry.

Sex work from indoor premises is legal in Scotland – as is sex work in general - but if it involves more than one person it is classed as an illegal brothel.

Scotland has largely adopted the "Nordic model" replicating Scandinavian laws where individuals who pay for sex are criminalised, but those who sell sex are not.

However the GMB opposes this claiming that decriminalising and regulating the industry instead would allow women to work together, in greater safety. Making it illegal for people who use prostitutes will drive it underground.

Rhea Wolfson, GMB organiser for Glasgow, said: “Sex work is work. Our job is to defend workers’ interests and protect them at their place of work. Do we have a policy that will make workers, the majority of whom are women, safer or have a law that isolates them and puts them at risk?

“Working with friends is an important safety measure but the Nordic model doesn’t allow for that. Exploitation is best tackled through enshrining rights and regulations.”

Glasgow-based sex worker Megara Furie said: “Sex work covers everything from stripping to burlesque, go-go dancers, cam workers, people who make porn – any sort of sexual labour or erotic service is under sex work.

“There are laws in place that are making everyone’s work unsafe and there are proposals to bring in new laws that could make it even less safe.

“It doesn’t make the work go away. Even if you criminalise clients, it’s not going to end demand. Basically, all it does is remove any safe-guards that we’ve got.”