I’ve just had word that Sunday’s fringe meeting on sex workers at the GMB Congress has today been cancelled following an intervention by the IUSW’s Catherine Stephens.

Apparently Stephens wasn’t happy that a representative from the Poppy Project had been invited to speak, so she managed to convince the GMB’s equalities peeps that Poppy were an anti-union organisation who shouldn’t be given a platform at a trade union conference.

Sorry, if you could just excuse me for a minute…..


The IUSW trying to dictate to others what trade unionism is all about?

What, the IUSW that allows pimps and punters into its membership so they can help set GMB policy on prostitution and the sex industry?

Don’t make me fucking laugh.

The IUSW is so committed to trade unionism and the GMB that their spokesperson, the one and only Douglas Fox, posted this comment on an escort agency forum recently:

With regard to our industry. The fact that a major union recognises our work as legitimate labour is very important and through the GMB we are able to gain access to government and through the TUC to other union and labour rights organisations. The communications workers recently voted to support decriminalisations and of course the GMB have now publicly supported decriminalisation as well and are putting pressure on the MP’s they support financially to also support sex workers rights.

By joining the GMB and by businesses supporting, joining and displaying that support openly it is sending out a clear message that we are free union members who support ethical standards. If sufficient members do this effectively the police and the government will be not just attacking individuals with little power but will be taking on the unions. Already through the GMB membership we are contacting other unions groups such as printers etc and getting a good response.

Union membership not only offers the possibility of a shield but also allows us to create our own frameworks to establish good working practises and to publicly challenge the stereotype that we are all evil pimps and trafficked, coerced victims.

Although the unions tend to be left wing (and I am a good old fashioned liberal Tory: ) I strongly support the case of a strong workers support and rights group and of course the recognition and support and access membership gives us as a union. Being part of the TUC actually gives us more clout than Red Thread in Holland. Union support has been so important in decriminalisation in New Zealand and parts of Australia. Union support is also very important in the struggle in Canada where various court test cases are in progress and of course the sex workers union in India has done amazing work.


The IUSW is able to campaign independently. Those who for what ever reason will not join the GMB can donate or join the IUSW by paying a subscription of your choice (min £5)… This will not give you any discounts at present as all discounts are through the GMB branch membrship. The reason we do not ask for or receive money for our IUSW campaign work from the GMB (the IUSW/GMB branch does for branch business which includes visits to businesses, running curses etc etc) is that we understand the complexities of sex work far better than the GMB because we are sex workers ourselves.

We are not affiliated to any political party and so we will talk to and negotiate with anyone and everyone with out any Pre conceptions. We do not have to ask permission for any statements we make or actions we take ie recently we stood outside Spearmint Rhino in London defending the establishment with rows of red umbrellas from hordes of screaming antis (we would have had to ask permission for this demonstration from the GMB if we were funded by them and they are restricted legally re demonstrations etc. Its complicated). We talk to ministers and various groups directly as sex workers and explain our views and opinions and we work internationally (the GMB cannot do this but our association allows us access).

Basically we want to be independent as a lobbying group and to grow as an independent international group that is supportive of the GMB but independent of the GMB. We are both important in different ways and provide different functions for sex workers and in the fight for our rights.

In other words, Fox and his pals are simply using the labour movement as a means of gaining access to the people in power, access they wouldn’t have if they didn’t have a major trade union name behind them, and access they most certainly wouldn’t have if those people knew they were actually dealing with agency owners and punters.

The IUSW want to be an independent lobbying group, but they know that without the GMB they’d get nowhere.

And I wonder if the GMB are aware that Fox et al are talking to and accepting money from anyone and everyone, like the conservative party for instance….

Here’s Dougie again:

Funds to the IUSW/GMB account go to the GMB. It is for the branch and branch activity. The IUSW cannot draw on those funds with out GMB permission.

The IUSW is separate. We are the ones who lobby on your behalf.

We are a small group at present to have achieved huge amounts of publicity and have seriously damaged the governments programme winning both media and public support. Also got the Liberals and conservatives on side. We have numerous academics also on our side.

We have done this with out any money. To go further we need donations. Cath (that’s Catherine Stephens obviously,not me) myself and a small group were given permission by the IUSW/GMB branch to organise the IUSW as a viable campaigning separate group (but still part of the whole). To do all the work we need we are asking for donations or subscriptions and for people to join and get involved. I was given the task of drawing up a constitution and opening a bank account. This has taken weeks to do. We have received nearly £1500 in donations the largest part being from the conservative party.

Hmmm, I wonder if  Paul Kenny knows that one of his branches is being funded by the Tory party…..

I think he should be told.