Strippers fear being left out in cold if Tower Hamlets closes clubs

07:00 24 April 2012

Trade unions are defending strippers against their adult entertainment clubs in London’s East End being shut down.

They fear 1,000 strippers could be left out in the cold if Tower Hamlets council closes strip clubs and bars by refusing operating licenses.

So the GMB and Equity unions are mobilising the strippers and nude dancers to take the fight to Parliament.

The strippers held a public meeting in a community centre to explain what they do.

The women deny claims by anti-striptease campaigners that they’re being exploited—they perform naked by choice, they told the packed meeting at St Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green last Thursday.

GMB organiser Keith Henderson said his union would take the fight to Westminster if the local authority refused to license the clubs operating legitimately.

“The GMB is ready to make a legal challenge in Parliament to change the law,” he said. “I am very proud to organise sex workers in this fight to protect their jobs.”

Edie Lamort from Equity talked about previously working in office jobs without employment rights and the contradiction now having to justify herself as a stripper.

Labour MP John McDonnell expressed solidarity at the meeting and highlighted “the double standard morality” between pressure to close the clubs because of nudity and companies making “immoral profit” over health and safety.

The MP added: “The Olympics are being used to ‘cleanse’ east London of sex establishments, but no word is said against multi-national companies using the 2012 Games for profit and to exploit workers.”

The public talk has kicked off a counter campaign to oppose “prohibitionist measures” in order to save eight strip clubs, which are themselves prepared for action in the High Court—and even take their case to the European Court, the meeting heard.

Stripper Clare Roderick later told the Advertiser: “It doesn’t make sense closing down the clubs in a recession.

“There will be 1,000 dancers thrown out of work if all the clubs in Tower Hamlets are shut.

“It’s lucrative work for us—not to be confused with brothels. I live comfortably working just five or six nights a month as a nude dancer.

“Local authorities don’t have the right to dictate our way of life.”

The strippers are now waiting for the council’s response to a second round of public consultation. The first round last summer, they complain, went ahead without the girls themselves being asked if they were being exploited.

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