Dancers win at work: unionization and Nowak v Chandler Bars Group Ltd

Camille Barbagallo, Katie A Cruz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In the UK, United Sex Workers are organising as the sex worker’s branch of United Voices of the World Union and with the broader sex worker rights movement. Sex workers have firmly located dancer unionisation and labour rights within a political framework and set of demands relating to socially reproductive labour and decriminalisation of all forms of sex work. Their efforts have culminated in an Employment Tribunal decision that concludes that dancers fall within the definition of “worker” found in various UK labour laws. Worker status begins to shift the economic risk of dancing onto the shoulders of employers, offers protection against detriment for joining and participating in UVW, and enables UVW to apply to be recognised by clubs for the purposes of collective bargaining. At the same time, the broad perspective and demands of the sex worker rights movement expose the limits of worker status and the gains made through unionisation have, at least at this time, been eclipsed by COVID 19.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-375
Number of pages22
JournalStudies in Political Economy
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the following friends and colleagues for discussing the ideas in this article extensively: Nicholas Beuret, Blair Buchanan, Manuel Cruz, Michael Ford QC, editors of the UK Labour Law Blog, Sonia Nowak, Shiri Shalmy, Sharon Thompson, United Sex Worker Branch (UVW), Richard O?Keeffe, and Xanthe Whittaker. This article would not have been possible without the CERIC (University of Leeds) postdoctoral scheme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Studies in Political Economy.


  • COVID-19
  • labour law
  • sex work
  • unionization
  • United Sex Workers


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