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Source: Fired Up Stilettos

Strippers at Wellington’s The Mermaid have been waiting for the club owner to meet with them since June 29th. During those 3 and a half months their workplace conditions have been described by the workers as ‘predatory and disgusting’. On Saturday, strip club contractor Lavender* was told her contract had been terminated because she wasn’t willing to remove her underwear on stage for free. “Two of us got fired because we wouldn’t take off our underwear, another two were threatened which led to them taking their underwear off for free”. At the time that this occurred there were no tipping patrons in the venue to compensate them for their labour.

The dancers working within the venue have also witnessed predatory behaviour from the staff managing the venue, to try to increase the number of dancers willing to work under the problematic management. “Our roster is so short the manager is inviting drunk girls off the street to look around, trying to convince them to take a job. These girls are visibly drunk too, like stumbling, and really young. It’s predatory and disgusting” stated one worker.

Strippers rights group Fired Up Stilettos have been supporting the workers at The Mermaid as they try to negotiate for a safer workplace. The workers say their club has always had issues that needed addressing, but since they’ve tried to talk about them it’s only gotten worse. ‘‘We’ve been trying to help the whole business grow, not just help ourselves. It’s very frustrating to be punished for wanting to do better” says Glenda*, a dancer who was just fired from The Mermaid last weekend. Glenda believes that she was fired because she has been vocal about her support for change and unity within the club.

 Fired Up Stilettos organiser Margot Embargot says that the group was outraged to hear what has been happening at The Mermaid. “This is completely indefensible in any context. No one gets to decide when another person takes their underwear off. Workers need to be able to give consent for this job to be safe. You can’t give consent if your job is being threatened at the same time.” “There is no financial incentive to either venue or contractor to force contractors to take their underwear off for free. It’s just an excuse for the venue to exhibit power and control over the contractors and force them into humiliating situations.” adds another Fired Up Stilettos organiser Laura Phillips.