Sex workers to join Glasgow May Day march

Unison banners for May Day march
Image caption The May Day march will be led by members of the Glasgow Equal Pay Campaign

A group of sex workers are to take part in the May Day march in Glasgow for the first time.

Campaigners from the charity Scot-Pep and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement will attend.

The protest is part of efforts to decriminalise sex work and to win better protection against deportation for migrant sex workers.

Sex workers to join Glasgow May Day march
Sex workers to join Glasgow May Day march

The May Day march on Sunday will be led by members of the Glasgow Equal Pay Campaign.

With this year marking the 100th anniversary of women being given the right to vote, the focus will be on equality.

The sex workers taking part will be also be highlighting the problem of violence against those 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.

“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.”

Image copyrightLorna Miller
Image caption The Glasgow May Day poster was designed by Lorna Miller

Fellow sex worker Molly added: “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.”

Members of the Glasgow Equal Pay Campaign will take part in the march dressed in the style of the women workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant, who campaigned on the issue in 1968.

The 2018 May Day poster was designed by artist Lorna Miller, who combined three generations of Glasgow campaigners.

Mary McArthur was a suffragette who founded the women’s trade union league, Agnes McLean was union convenor at Rolls Royce in Hillingdon and led strikes for equal pay, and Denise Phillips is a home carer and part of the current Glasgow City Council collective dispute.

Jennifer McCarey, chairwoman 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,” she added.

The annual protest and celebration of rights is part of International Workers Day, which takes place on May Day each year.

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