Green MP Jan Logie calls for 'intervention' on adult entertainment industry as sex workers speak at Parliament about abuse of power from bosses

"It is time strip clubs are held to a higher standard."
"It is time strip clubs are held to a higher standard." Photo credit: Newshub

Green MP Jan Logie says law reform around adult entertainment in Aotearoa "feels urgent" as sex workers speak out about abuse of power from strip club bosses.

On Thursday night, the Green Party hosted the Fired Up Stilettos collective at Parliament so sex workers could shed light on the challenges they face in the industry. 

Some of the workers at Parliament were among the 19 who were fired over Facebook from Wellington's Calendar Girls last month after attempting to negotiate working conditions and pay. 

Career sex workers Skyler said Calendar Girls reduced the cuts she and other workers would receive for the work they did. 

"To 50 percent for a standard lap dance, 44 percent for spa bookings and down to a measly 39.6 percent for a stripper gram. We were not happy."

Skyler said she and others created a petition against the reductions in a bid to "make it clear we all have a problem". She thought, "They can't fire all of us", but Calendar Girls did. 

"Within 24 hours of sending our letter, 19 out of 35 of who signed were asked to clear out our lockers."

Sex workers are not employees, but instead contractors. Skyler said their contract required five days' notice of termination but said the group of 19 were given 48 hours.

"As contractors - and I say contractors, even though to be honest they really treat us like employees - there are many, many hoops we have to jump through to hold them [Calendar Girls] accountable," Skyler said. 

"It is time strip clubs are held to a higher standard. No longer can they take away our incomes with little to no procedure, tossing us out as if we were disposable."

Calendar Girls management has previously told RNZ that all contractors were told they can reapply for work online. They said 12 of the 19 dancers asked to clear their lockers had already moved away or stopped working for the club. 

"The club only has a limited amount of lockers and needs them for contractors [to] do weekly shifts as most of the other seven only do a day here and there bar one who was trespassed."

Logie told Newshub sex workers aren't able to raise concerns about safety or talk about unions without the threat of "getting fired".

"People are experiencing violence and not being able to assert their boundaries because they are scared of being fined," Logie said. 

The Green MP told Newshub the current system is "dangerous", "exploitative" and "it needs to change."

Logie said after hearing first-hand accounts of the experiences adult entertainers are going through, a need for law reform "feels urgent".

"It's a female-dominated industry and it's often a really young industry as well, and the harm just sounds widespread and profound and it needs an intervention."

Logie told Newshub law reform needs to enable sex workers on contracting contracts to negotiate standards within the working environment. 

"It's not about the work, it's about the behaviour of those venue managers."