Sex workers: GMB wins first ever unfair dismissal case

An employment tribunal has just found that GMB member Mrs Irene Everitt, who worked on live adult chat lines, was unfairly dismissed by her employer Datapro Services Limited.

Mrs Everitt was dismissed in March 2005 having been accused of gross industrial misconduct. She worked for the company in Grays in Essex from 1997 to 2005.

The case was taken to the Employment Tribunal in Stratford, East London by GMB on behalf of union member Irene Everitt. The hearing took place in November 2005 and the judgement has just been received. A remedies hearing is due on the February 8th 2006.

Mrs Everitt was employed as an operator in the adult live chat industry and after a number of years was promoted to supervision and training of the other operators. She was able to do much of the work from home. The relationship with her employer deteriorated 'due to the lack of respect for the operators'. The Tribunal heard that Mrs Everitt was dismissed after she refused to resume working full time in the office in Grays because she did not want to work in a culture of cannabis and cocaine consumption and in an atmosphere of a lack of respect for the operators.

Mrs Everitt was accused of trying to attract away from Datapro the chat line operatives to a rival organisation Jo Jo Jones and was sacked by the director and owner Mr Trevor Osborne for this reason. The Tribunal found that the evidence for this accusation was entirely without substance. The Tribunal found that she had been unfairly dismissed.

Ed Blissett, GMB Regional Secretary said, "No matter what industry people work in they have a right to be treated fairly. GMB will ensure that this is so if they are members of GMB.

This is the first case that a trade union has won at an Employment Tribunal for a worker in this part of the economy."

GMB press secretary Rose Conroy said the union has between 2,000 and 3,000 members in the adult sex industry -- concentrated mainly at "chatline" companies and at clubs which feature "lap dancing" entertainment. Most sex workers joined GMB when it merged with the Internation Union of Sex Workers (whose logo is featured left) in 2002. GMB is actively registering prostitutes as well, offering them tax and legal advice.

Edited from www.gmb.org.uk

More information
* For more on organising sex workers see www.iusw.org
* Read our interview with a sex worker about the industry here:
http://libcom.org/news/article.php/interview-sex-text-worker-250106