Strip­per fines com­mon, in­dus­try ex­pert says

The Press - - News - Press re­porters

More ex­otic dancers have come for­ward crit­i­cis­ing what they call un­fair and ‘‘co­er­cive’’ fines im­posed on strip club work­ers.

It is so wide­spread one strip club man­ager said ‘‘if there are clubs who say that they don’t do it, then they’re prob­a­bly not telling you the truth.’’

Some ad­vo­cates and former dancers have called for an end to the prac­tice, while oth­ers have de­fended the sys­tem as a means of main­tain­ing or­der.

It comes after The Press re­vealed 22-year-old Jes­sica Clif­ford was plan­ning to sue Christchurch strip club Cal­en­dar Girls in a case that has ex­posed the club’s in­ner work­ings.

A doc­u­ment pro­vided to Clif­ford’s em­ploy­ment ad­vo­cate in re­sponse to a con­tract con­tained an ex­haus­tive list of fines, in­clud­ing $50 for miss­ing a spot on stage to $2500 for danc­ing for a com­peti­tor.

‘‘It scared a lot of the girls, be­cause that was their only in­come,’’ Clif­ford said of the fines sys­tem.

Cal­en­dar Girls said it ‘‘strongly de­nied’’ Clif­ford’s al­le­ga­tions.

Labour In­spec­torate na­tional man­ager Stu Lums­den said the in­spec­torate would be ‘‘closely watch­ing’’ the re­sults of Clif­ford’s case, par­tic­u­larly the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Au­thor­ity’s (ERA) de­ci­sion about whether she was a con­trac­tor or an em­ployee.

‘‘Should it be demon­strated that she is an em­ployee and not a con­trac­tor, we will be fol­low­ing this up with the em­ployer to en­sure all their em­ploy­ees re­ceive their min­i­mum en­ti­tle­ments,’’ he said.

Kiwi Strip­pers sales man­ager Lexie An­nan, a former dancer who has held man­age­ment roles in the in­dus­try, said the fines sys­tem was more com­mon than not in clubs.

‘‘I’ve danced all over New Zealand and overseas and fines are com­mon­place in a lot of strip clubs.’’

The fines cov­ered dress codes, no-shows and late­ness. She dis­liked the sys­tem, but un­der­stood the ra­tio­nale of club own­ers for im­pos­ing them.

‘‘I guess they’re us­ing fines to re­in­force their point that ‘this is a job’, and to take that se­ri­ously,’’ she said.

An­nan praised Clif­ford for speak­ing up. It was dif­fi­cult for dancers to do so as they risked never work­ing in the in­dus­try again, but felt it would help if dancers ob­jected col­lec­tively.

New Zealand Pros­ti­tutes’ Col­lec­tive spokeswoman Cather­ine Healy said the prac­tice ‘‘sug­gests a very strongly co­er­cive en­vi­ron­ment’’.

A former Cal­en­dar Girls dancer, who did not want to be named, said she left the busi­ness last year due to the overly long hours, the need to pro­duce a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate to avoid in­cur­ring a fine, and not be­ing able to work for other clubs or agen­cies.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.