10 May 06

International Union of Sex Workers

Wednesday 10th May 2006

Attention:  News Desk, Local Authority, Leisure, Political and Industrial Correspondents

PRESS RELEASE
1 of 2 pages

TRADE UNION MEMBERS REACTION TO SCOTLAND’S ADULT ENTERTAINMENT WORKING GROUP REPORT

The International Union of Sex Workers today published their reaction to Scotland’s Adult Entertainment Working Group Report.

Rachel Frost, International Union of Sex Workers spokesperson said, “The International Union of Sex Workers is concerned about the recommendations made in the report. We have concerns about the veracity of the basis of the report. For example the ‘site visits’ report are incorrect as some of the information contained in the report is clearly inaccurate. We are also worried about the amount of weight given to the input of the people working in the industry and their real concerns about safety and how to put that at the top of the agenda.”

Ends

Contact: GMB Press Office: 020 8971 4209 or Rose Conroy 07974 251823 or Steve Pryle on 07921 289880.
Notes to Editors:
1    The full statement from the IUSW is as follows: -
While public opinion (MORI poll) demonstrated a general acceptance of the adult entertainment industry (60% males and 54% females were not ‘generally opposed’ to adult entertainment venues), the remainder of the report appears to have missed the mark.

An ambitious strategy was implemented by the AEWG to assess the economic and social impact of this industry sector. Unfortunately, we consider the research strategy did not fulfil its remit and has failed to comprehensively assess the situation in Scotland.  Recommendations based on this research are therefore unrealistic and ill-advised.

The AEWG states repeatedly in the report that it is an evidence-based group and “we were not experts” (p. 37); therefore input was required from those who ARE experts, those working in the industry. Industry input however was limited from both operators (owners/management/licensees/agents) and workers (performers/barpersons/DJs/door stewards). It was also gender-biased. Only six performers in Scotland were interviewed – all female.  This is not a representative sample.  The Group placed an advertisement inviting industry comment in three Scottish newspapers and sent out one round of consultation papers  – we do not feel in a year’s timeframe adequate opportunity was made for an industry response.

Secondary sources quoted extensively in the AEWG report, such as Julie Bindel’s 2004 report ‘Profitable Exploits – Lap Dancing in the UK’, have been alleged to be both ethically and academically questionable, and contain factual inaccuracies.  Moreover, the majority of sources used were US-based, therefore culturally specific to a North American context.

Limited time and primary research marred the extent of research in the Economic Impact exercise, where no definite data could be collated. The report itself warns at the start of the Economic Impact section: “All quantitative figures in this chapter are based on a limited sample of primary data and should not be taken as definitive.” (pg 27, Economic Impact Survey). Yet recommendations have been made based on this limited data.

Furthermore, information in the Site Visits is inaccurate. For example, one venue is described as having no evident CCTV, where in fact it has full CCTV and a panic alarm system.

While performers’ interviews did mention safety, their primary concern was financial exploitation by operators, and working conditions.  While the report has addressed physical working conditions in AE venues, it has not addressed financial operations. In fact it acknowledges the cost of improving working conditions will probably be passed down to dancers (p.10), and recommendations such as one-metre distance between performer and customer will mean a lowering in dance price if business is to continue.

Also the report notes that “most industry workers” believe tighter regulations will lead to an increase in unlicensed Informal Economy operations (p.10). If the group is concerned with the conditions and safety of workers it should not be making recommendations which it acknowledges the experts (those working in the industry) predict would lead to more unlicensed operations.

Performers cited cases of finishing a shift in debt to the operator; the IUSW cannot condone such practices.  While upper-tier clubs such as Spearmint Rhino, FYEO and The Truffle Club submitted Working Contracts to the AEWG, the IUSW has no recognition agreements with these operators. Their contracts do address working conditions and employment codes, however, they do not recognise financial security. For example, one states that the fee for the night will be decided at midnight – performers do not know at the start of their shift what fee will be demanded from them, which could be anywhere in a wide bracket, with “the total price for each evening’s work is estimated to be between £30 and £100 per night” (Annex 10, page 2).

In view of the limited primary research carried out by the AEWG, the IUSW finds that the Group’s recommendations are flawed and would be extremely detrimental to workers and operators in the industry.  Prior to any legislation being passed we would urge further investigations into the AE industry be conducted, with extensive industry input, for a comprehensive and realistic strategy to be formulated.

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