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To: Parliament of Aotearoa New Zealand

End Labour Violations in Adult Entertainment

Almost all dancers in adult entertainment venues in Aotearoa New Zealand are employed as independent contractors. Because we are not employees, independent contractors are not protected by most employment laws: we are not guaranteed a minimum wage, we don’t get holiday pay, and we have no guarantee of work. But what we lack in security we make up for in the freedom to have control over the conditions of our labour: according to Employment New Zealand, independent contractors set our own hours and decide our availability, can work for multiple businesses at the same time, and profit from our labour by deciding how much to charge and how many jobs to take on.

Adult venues have a longstanding history of pushing the limits of the independent contractor relationship, and Calendar Girls Wellington’s recent mass firing of 19 dancers when we attempted to negotiate our contracts in good faith has led to the creation of this petition. But it is important to recognise the issues outlined are not specific to any one club, but rather endemic to the industry because of the lack of oversight of venues’ control over independent contractors. We ask for the following adjustments that would make our working conditions safer, and help prevent labour trafficking of those working in the adult entertainment industry.

1) Compel adult entertainment venues to cease all practices which violate our independent contractor status, which includes control of our working hours, control over the services we provide and how we provide them, and an end to any non-competition clauses in our contracts

2) Remove the implementation or threat of all fines and/or bonds in adult entertainment

3) Implement a fair share of profits: a limit of 35% in total that can be taken from the contractor’s booked services in adult entertainment venues, and a 20% limit on tips

Why is this important?

Meeting the three demands of our petition would help combat the labor exploitation and sometimes outright trafficking endemic within venues in adult entertainment in New Zealand. The reasoning for our demands are further explained below, but more information can be found on our website, and on Employment New Zealand’s website.

1) As is clearly outlined in Employment New Zealand’s guide for determining whether someone is an independent contractor or employee, independent contractors have control over our working hours, control over services we provide and how we provide them, and may work for multiple principles at the same time.

We have collected contracts from numerous adult entertainment venues in Aotearoa New Zealand which violate our independent contractor status by proposing dancers pay exorbitant fines for not being at work at a time management decides, or leaving before management wants us to. They have introduced fines that compel us to take our underwear off at a certain time on stage, and keep it off while walking around to collect tips. The most egregious fees prohibit “rudeness” (as determined solely by management) toward management or customers, and “demanding” customers pay us for our labour (also known as asking for a tip–one of the only ways we get paid). The contracts also compel a dancer to agree not to provide services of a similar nature to any third party, allowing them to monopolize and control our labour. These clauses create an atmosphere of dictatorial control by management over dancers that violates our status as independent contractors. We are willing to sacrifice labour security in order to have freedom–we will no longer tolerate having neither.

2) The use of fines and bonds is a standard tactic used by adult entertainment venues in order to coerce compliant behavior from dancers, and they promote self-evident power imbalances that can range from inconvenience to outright labour trafficking. This labour trafficking can occur when dancers are fined by management for a larger amount than they have actually earned, meaning they then owe their employer (who is the one with the power to implement the fine) payment on this debt. Some clubs claim this never happens, which is both untrue and beside the point: the fact that we are afraid it will happen means management is in a position of incredible coercive control, which is dangerous.

Although this is in no way unique among venues in our industry, we have included an example of Calendar Girls Wellington’s contract, including the detailed fines. These fines make us afraid. We are afraid to stand up to management for fear of losing all our income, and afraid to stand up to customers who violate our boundaries for fear we will be blamed and go home owing the club money because we dared say no. All fines are coercive and unethical, but threatening dancers with such a huge fine for “rudeness” toward a customer in particular is a safety issue that increases our likelihood of experiencing sexual violence at work: an integral part of any kind of adult entertainment is being able to decide our own boundaries over our own bodies, and which customers we do business with. Coercion and exploitation in adult entertainment is not inherent to the work, but rather to business practices that control when, how, and with whom we do it.

3) As previously stated, independent contractors do not receive a wage: dancers only make what we earn from private dances and tips. In order to gain the right to work in a club, we give a percentage of our earnings to the venue; the proportion of this split has continued to increase in favor of the clubs, creating a condition in which dancers are working more for a smaller percentage of the fee. There is currently no regulation on how much venues can take from us, which has led to what we allege are unfair conditions.

The percentage taken by the venue varies throughout adult entertainment in New Zealand, but many extract anywhere from 50-60% of the list price for services (meaning we only earn 39.6%-50% of what the customer has paid for our services), and 20% of tips (meaning we keep 80% of the tips customers give us). We think this division is deeply unfair, but since there are few adult entertainment venues in each city, the clubs are able to set prices so we aren’t able to seek better conditions in another venue. We need industry regulation that sets a limit on how much venues can extract from our profits: we propose the venue is not allowed to take more than 35% of the list price for services, and no more than the 20% already in place for tips.
New Zealand

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2023-02-20 11:21:17 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2023-02-19 17:53:27 +1300

500 signatures reached

2023-02-18 23:10:11 +1300

100 signatures reached

2023-02-18 21:17:09 +1300

50 signatures reached

2023-02-18 20:14:58 +1300

25 signatures reached

2023-02-18 19:47:02 +1300

10 signatures reached