Sex workers to join glasgow workers’ rights rally for first time

May Day marches will be held across the country
May Day marches will be held across the country

A group of sex workers are to take part in a march for workers’ rights in Glasgow for the first time.

Campaigners from the charity Scot-Pep and from the grass roots organisation the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (Swarm) are to join in with thousands of others in the May Day march in the city.

The protest is part of efforts to decriminalise sex work and to win better protection against deportation for migrant sex workers. In addition they will be highlighting the problem of violence against people working in the industry.

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, sex worker Harley said: “I’ve never been a part of a workers’ movement before, but I think it is vital for sex workers to be visible in places like this.

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“Too often we are talked down to and made to feel like our struggles are not welcome in the workers’ rights movement, we’re here to say that we can speak for ourselves, and no longer be spoken for. We demand workers’ rights.”

Fellow sex worker Molly stated: “It’s important for sex workers to be here on this iconic day for workers of all sorts - we are so often overlooked by the trade union movement, which in the past has even supported the continued criminalisation of our workplaces.

“Ironically, criminalisation makes us very vulnerable to workplace exploitation and abuse. We’re here demanding labour rights and solidarity, not criminalisation and poverty.”

With this year marking the 100th anniversary of women being given the right to vote, the focus of the May Day March is on equality.

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It will be led by members of the Glasgow Equal Pay Campaign, who will take part in the demonstration dressed in the style of the women workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant, who campaigned on the issue in 1968.

Jennifer McCarey, chair of Glasgow Trades Council, said that 50 years since the strike at Dagenham, “Glasgow is currently at the forefront of Scotland’s largest equal pay battle. Our May Day celebrations will be led by these campaigners”.