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New Zealand strippers march on parliament for legal protections

By AFP

February 1, 2024 03:57 PM


Representational image

 

A group of New Zealand strippers took their fight for better employment rights to parliament on Thursday, demanding widespread reforms to the adult entertainment industry.

Brandishing placards that read "strippers rights are workers rights" dozens of protesters calling themselves the "Fired Up Stilettos" asked lawmakers for more legal protections.

Spokesperson Margot Embargot, using a pseudonym for safety reasons, told AFP the group wants tighter safeguards against predatory employers and the right to bargain collectively for better pay and conditions.

Strip club dancers in New Zealand are employed as independent contractors.

In theory, they can decide when to dance and for how much money.

In reality, club owners often dictate the terms -- deciding pay rates or dishing out fines when dancers ring in sick.

"Because there is no regulation around how the clubs are allowed to treat their workers, they exploit them massively," the 24-year-old said.

"It makes us vulnerable. As workers, it allows us to be more easily manipulated, abused and not taken seriously when we try to address these issues."

She said the amount owners charge strippers for dancing in their clubs, in return for things like security, has roughly doubled to more than 50 percent of their earnings in recent years.

"The exploitation is getting worse and worse," she added.

Pole dancer Vixen Temple, who twirled around a mobile pole as lawmakers walked by, said it was "vital" the government improve the rights of adult entertainment workers.

"Our industry is made up of women. We're single parents. We're disabled people. We're marginalised people and we're just trying to earn a living," said the 27-year-old, also using a pseudonym.

"It's really frustrating to have to constantly fight stigma, on top of exploitation from management."

The group hopes their petition eventually leads to new legislation. It already has some support in parliament.

"No one but exploitative employers wins when we have workers who are facing discretionary fines and recurring abuse from clients and employers," Green Party lawmaker Ricardo Menendez March told AFP.

The politician said that if successful, the new laws could protect the rights of other independent contractors in New Zealand, from Uber drivers to actors.

"The fight that the strippers are having will benefit contractors from across a range of sectors, not just them, so they're actually taking up the fight on behalf of workers in this country," he added.


AFP


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