IUSW fired me

membership of IUSW activist group

09/19/11 11:09 PM

 

“IU SW”

To:

zezetta.star@gmx.com

 

Dear Thierry

 

With great regret, the International Union of Sex Workers’ Committee is writing to inform you of your suspension from the IUSW activist group as we do not have confidence that you are a supporter of the IUSW. The Committee has referred this issue to the wider activist group for discussion and will forward statements to support your continued inclusion from you to the group if you wish.

 

In the meantime, the Committee asks

• do you agree with the fundamental principles of the IUSW – support for  the decriminalisation of sex work; inclusion of everyone in the sex industry and adult entertainment, regardless of role, immigration or taxation status; recognition of sex work as a form of work (labour)?

• do you consider yourself a supporter of the International Union of Sex Workers?

• if yes, on what basis do you consider yourself a supporter of the IUSW; do you show that support by any actions, and, if so, what are they?

 

Please confirm receipt of this email. If we do not receive confirmation of receipt, this email will be sent four times to decrease the likelihood that it is not received by you. If we have received no response by Monday 10 October we will assume that you choose not to respond.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The Committee of the International Union of Sex Workers

 

 

Re: membership of IUSW activist group

09/28/11 11:57 PM

“Thierry Schaffauser” <zezetta.star@gmx.com>

To:

“IU SW”

Dear Catherine,

It is with great surprise and disappointment that I read the decision taken by the IUSW committee to suspend me.

I am a committed global, European and UK sex worker activist and I am a bit shocked to be asked to prove my commitment and support for sex workers’ rights or my support for the work of the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW).

I do agree with the fundamental principles of the IUSW – support for  the decriminalisation of sex work (sex workers, clients and managers and other third parties); inclusion of everyone in the sex industry and adult entertainment, regardless of role, immigration or taxation status; recognition of sex work as a form of work (labour)

 

I do consider myself a supporter of the International Union of Sex Workers. I have expressed my wish to participate and to attend meetings and I regret that no meeting has been held since our last AGM, one and a half year ago, which I was present at with only two other people. I regret that no information is circulated on the list which would enable more people to fully participate. For example, I have always asked for all the sex workers interested in media work, to have their contact on the IUSW website so we can broaden representation and have more voices speaking for our cause. By that, I do not mean that the work done by yourself isn’t good. In fact, I have always expressed support for the work you have done and said publicly that you are a great activist. My concern is more that in order for the IUSW to grow, it needs more than one activist. This is why, I have always asked for information about public meetings and conferences to be circulated so more sex workers can attend. I have always supported a better democratic process so everyone can be involved and participate collectively instead of a small group of people. Unfortunately, this never happened and it has limited my own participation in the work of the IUSW. Given that the work done by IUSW has been very limited in the last two years, most of us have never had the occasion to express our support. Therefore, I do wonder why my support for the IUSW is questioned, and why I am being excluded in this way.

Please let me know the process to appeal the decision taken by the committee.

 

Best regards,

Thierry Schaffauser

 

 

Re: membership of IUSW activist group

10/07/11 11:32 PM

“IU SW”

To:

“Thierry Schaffauser” <zezetta.star@gmx.com>

 

Dear Thierry

We write in response to your email of 28 September to addressed Catherine Stephens. Although Catherine is glad to read your statement that she is “a great activist”, we are not sure why you chose to respond to an individual, rather than the Committee – a group of people – who have written to you. You say that the IUSW “needs more than one activist” but you yourself seem to be unable to recognise that the IUSW is more than one activist. The IUSW is, as it has always been, a group of people working together, rather than one individual on whom you choose to focus. For example, all documents produced by IUSW have been the result of an extensive collective consultation and include text from a number of people. Please direct future correspondence to the Committee.

 

Our letter to you asked three questions

  1. do you agree with the fundamental principles of the IUSW – support for  the decriminalisation of sex work; inclusion of everyone in the sex industry and adult entertainment, regardless of role, immigration or taxation status; recognition of sex work as a form of work (labour)?

You say “I do agree with the fundamental principles of the IUSW” and give the specific examples “sex workers, clients and managers and other third parties”.  We find your statement difficult to believe given your strong and continued efforts over the past year to have a great number of current members removed from the GMB branch, and to institute policies that would exclude, amongst others “clients and managers and other third parties”. Do now you repudiate such statements as “I’d prefer the union being a workers only group” and “my opinion does not necessarily reflect those of the IUSW … in particular on the question of … the inclusion of managers”? If you agree with the principles of the IUSW, we would like to see you act on them, rather than pursuing exclusion and divisions within the sex workers’ rights movement. How will you act to demonstrate your support for these principles?

 

  1. do you consider yourself a supporter of the International Union of Sex Workers?
  2. if yes, on what basis do you consider yourself a supporter of the IUSW; do you show that support by any actions, and, if so, what are they?

You say “I do consider myself a supporter of the International Union of Sex Workers” but give no examples of how you demonstrate that support. The IUSW is not only about principles, but about taking action based on those principles. What action have you taken, or will you commit to take, to support the IUSW?

 

You say “please let me know the process to appeal the decision taken by the committee”. The Committee has not taken a decision; we have taken action to suspend you – a neutral act – while asking you for information about your support for the IUSW. We look forward to receiving this, as requested above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The Committee of the International Union of Sex Workers

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Thierry Schaffauser <sexworkeractivist@googlemail.com>
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Subject: IUSW membership
To: IUSW

Dear IUSW committee,

 

I have addressed my previous email to Catherine Stephens as she is one of the most visible leaders of the IUSW and is the only person people need to contact when they liaise with this group via the IUSW website. However I am happy to read that you want to address this issue collectively and that’s the reason why I also request that you send all my emails to the IUSW email list as you initially explained so the IUSW can collectively take the decision whether to exclude me or not.

 

Indeed, I would like the IUSW to function in a democratic way and not only by consultations of selected people to make decisions.

 

I reiterate that I have always supported the aims and principles of the IUSW and never tried to oppose its rules. In your email, you chose to refer to the GMB branch which is a different organisation from the IUSW and has thus no relevance to the IUSW.

 

I have never tried to exclude anyone from the sex worker rights’ movement, nor from the GMB or the IUSW, an allegation which I find surprising when I am the one being in fact excluded. The decision to remove me from the emails list is not neutral but prevents me to communicate with other IUSW members and to respond directly to the whole group about the accusations made against me.

 

I do believe that a trade union is a safe space for the workers and those workers don’t have the same class interests as their employers or clients. I have never supported the exclusion of anyone but that GMB provides a separate branch for allies who want to support us. This is a very common thing in the labour movement that managers are not in the same branch as workers. I also do believe that our allies should understand and respect sex workers’ need for sex worker only safe spaces.

 

Since I am a member of IUSW I have always taken part or showed interest in taking part in all its actions. It is with regret that very few actions have been taken in the recent years and that no meeting was hold for more than a year and half. You will note however that I was present at all previous meetings when most of other IUSW members were not. Therefore I find very unfair to say that I don’t show my support to the group when I am one of those who, apart from Catherine, does the most.

 

Please, I would like this email and my previous one to be sent to the IUSW emails list so everyone can read what I have to say.

 

Best regards,

 

Thierry Schaffauser

 

 

 

Re: membership of IUSW activist group

10/27/11 02:03 PM

“IU SW”

To:

“Thierry Schaffauser” <zezetta.star@gmx.com>

sexworkeractivist@googlemail.com

 

hi Thierry

 

Thanks for your email, we appreciate the detailed response you have made. We have circulated your emails to the IUSW activism group. In the meantime, please answer the questions from our two previous emails to which we have received no reply:

  • Do now you repudiate such statements as “I’d prefer the union being a workers only group” and “my opinion does not necessarily reflect those of the IUSW … in particular on the question of … the inclusion of managers”?
  • How will you act to demonstrate your support for the principles of the IUSW?
  • What action have you taken, or will you commit to take, to support the IUSW?

Please respond by Sunday 6 November.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The Committee of the International Union of Sex Workers

 

 

—————————————————————————–

After that email, I stopped trying to answer the same thing.

About Thierry Schaffauser

Queer, sex worker, drugs user, student in Gender History, GMB trade unionist, migrant, wants to change the world, etc
This entry was posted in Sex work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to IUSW fired me

  1. FW says:

    Um. I’m not sure what to say at the moment. I mean, you’re one of the most prominent activists there is. Pics of you in The Shirt has done more for raising awareness of this issue than many other things combined. Not liking this at all.

    Much love to you.

  2. FW says:

    And ya know, shit like this always makes me think of this song:

  3. La Bestia says:

    Who wants to support managers/owners being in a union for sex workers???
    My decision not to join anyway was due to managers/owners being members there!

    I have been an SW rights activist for 4 years, and SW for more than 20 years in 8 different brothels, and managers/owners have always rather been part of the problem than answer to SW rights to proper working conditions and right to 100 % selfdetermination.Their interests have always been profit ! or interest in securing profit for owners and being in the role as controllers!

    Does anyone knows what kind of advocacy or work on behalf of SW they do in IUSW do ? – to me they are very invisible

    • Angel says:

      > Who wants to support managers/owners being in a union for sex workers???

      Thierry does, or he wouldn’t be in the GMB whose rule book is very, very clear that it is open to everyone.

      The rest of the world sees us as one group of whores and does not draw fine distinctions between who help others get work as well as being paid to suck cock themselves.

      If a fraction of the time wasted arguing about who should qualify as a member if the GMB would change its rule book (which it won’t) had been spent on more productive campaigning, everyone except the antis would be happy.

      Bindel etc must be pissing themselves laughing at this state of affairs. Do you think the only thing stopping her supporting our demands is that there are more than just ultra pure prostitutes in the branch?

    • Prostitute against drugusing says:

      ”…for more than 20 years in 8 different brothels, and managers/owners have always rather been part of the problem ..”

      I agree with you but In what country do you live ?.Why not working 100% independently ? I live in Norway and i’m 100% independent,,Ive been ALWAYS independent and survived OK without any pimps or brothels. – i dispise all kinds of brothels, pimps etc..

      Its easy to post advert on some escort sites and get in touch with the clients without any ‘helper’ !

  4. Laurynas says:

    The responses from the Union sound pretty retarded, I’m really sorry to see such pressure from people who you are so actively standing up for. Good luck mate!

  5. Angri Smith says:

    What a pile of shit… fuck manager and owners.

  6. Thanks for publishing this Thierry, I know that these kinds of conflicts both internal process and public policies are always biting at our heals of progress and I totally support you.

    It seems from the emails that you had some concerns about the way mixing managers and direct service providers were to interact together in the context of union organizing? Can you say more about that? Was there something specific that happened in the course of worker union organizing that violated safe space? Does the IUSW have any policies or procedures in place to address such violations or grievances amongst members.?

    Too the IUSW request that you be made to qualify your membership after the fact that you’ve been a member and too after they suspended you looks out of order.

    If IUSW has a grievance process which would be one of the primary functions of a union both for internal and external disagreements, is it stated in the bylaws somewhere? I know its difficult when some of us have much passion about our issue and others don’t. One of the benefits of being in association with other unions is to access their help with our inevitable internal conflicts.

    Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed these kinds of exclusions before in the sex workers rights movement and in union organizing for sex workers rights in San Francisco over the same issue. Actions taken against individuals have far reaching negative effects that will be felt for years and years as its most unfortunate both for the individuals involved and organizing of sex workers. Its too bad we don’t take the opportunity to learn from each others mistakes in organizing. I’m just so sorry to ever see this again.

    We all know our class upon sustaining extreme systemic exclusion has to spend an exorbitant amount of time dealing with the unavoidable resulting internalized oppression. One thing I’m in appreciation about in being in association with the larger labor movement is way they always host an anti oppression training at the beginning of their events and trainings to help get everyone on equal footing to move forward together.

    I think allot about how we come together as brothers and sisters organizing for our rights and on behalf our class, locally, nationally and internationally. I believe we need 1) safe space for everyone to be together and 2) additional space for specific groups to come together and 3) of course to be in solidarity with the larger labor movement. I think of this kind of organizing as industrial organizing and I find it challenging to participate when one level isn’t high functioning or active while another level maybe going strong.

    I see these exact kinds of struggles in other industries and I can go into great detail about it but I won’t here.

    We defiantly need to be spending more time training sex workers to take control over our own organizing on all levels instead of taking actions to exclude anyone. We need to support such passion as it arises, after all we are dealing the force of nature herself.

    Let me know what I can do to support you Thierry. Please feel free to call or skype me as I’ll keep your confidence.

    Maxine Doogan
    Erotic Service Providers Union

    • Maxine,
      Thanks for your support. The IUSW is not really the trade union. GMB is. IUSW focuses mainly on campaigning for decriminalisation but never did anything about organising our workplaces. I have tried different times to raise issues around exploitation, working conditions, and the non-promotion of private businesses but I was silenced or disagreed with. I accepted the fact that IUSW was not the union and that employers/managers could be part of it, but it seems that expressing an opinion of non inclusion for managers/employers within the GMB branch was not acceptable for IUSW.
      Actually, I think this issue is rather an excuse and is only part of a broader fight for power and influence within the UK movement. It is not a big deal. I can continue my activism with GMB and other organisations.

  7. Matthias says:

    Thank you for publishing this email exchange, Thierry. Very educational.

  8. Luna says:

    Fuck that shit! You’re absolutely right, managers & customers DON’T have the same class interests as actual sex workers. “Tactical unity” to an extreme. IUSW won’t make any progress as an organization if it prioritizes the hurt feelings of bosses & johns over the needs & desires of sex workers.

  9. Prostitute against drugusing says:

    i have absolutely nothing against u r queer etc,, but i dont want MALE competing with us female prostitutes..

    Down with male-sexworkers !! Stop taking our clients !! Stop using drugs and get some fucking job !.
    Im NOT a drug-user myself, neither drink nor smoke..I do sexwork to SURVIVE,. and i despise lazy ppl as you..
    Pls seek some other job and stop stealing our clients,There are many other jobs for men and for queers

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