Calls for safer lap-dancing clubs after licensing proposal

A union wants venues to be safer for performers as proposals are set to go before councillors.

Union: Calls made for safety of performers to be made a priority <strong>Robin Olson</strong>
Union: Calls made for safety of performers to be made a priority Robin Olson

A trade union has called on authorities to prioritise the safety and rights of performers following proposals to introduce a licensing system for lap dancing bars in Edinburgh.

The new powers would give the authority control over the number of clubs and where they’re located.

It follows a public consultation which saw 65% of 800 respondents back a new licensing system for sexual entertainment venues (SEV).

Councillors will vote on the plans, which have been recommended by officials, next week.

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United Strippers of the World, which represents performers and took part in the initial consultation, has broadly welcomed the plans.

However the group have warned they hope any new regime will not lead to the closure of venues, with the Scottish Government allowing authorities to cap the number of SEVs in certain areas and even set it at zero if they wish.

Shiri Shalmy, organiser for United Strippers of the World, said: “As the trade union representing dancers working in strip clubs across Scotland, we welcome Edinburgh Council’s move to make clubs safer places for everyone involved.

“As part of the consultation process, we urged the council to listen to the people who know the most about working conditions in strip clubs – the dancers themselves.”

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She added: “We encourage the council to consider the safety, access to legal rights and the collective representation of dancers in any SEV policy it will develop.

“In particular, we want to ensure that dancers will no longer be misclassified as ‘independent contractors’ and could benefit from the rights they should have as workers, including the right to sick pay, holiday leave, a guaranteed minimum pay for all hours worked and access to trade union representation.

“We hope that the introduction of SEV licensing will not lead to a decrease in the number of clubs.

“They are legal workplaces that support many women and families and should be considered with the same scrutiny as any other late night venues.

“Dancers already suffer unfair stigma and marginalisation – they shouldn’t be penalised further.”

Story by local democracy reporter David Bol


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