2017: Campaigning for the Decriminalisation of Sex Work

In 2017 ASLEF submitted the below motion to the TUC Women’s Conference calling for the decriminalisation of sex work:

Conference notes that austerity measures since 2010 have led to an increase in the number of women working in the sex industry. In Doncaster on-street prostitution has risen by 60%, an increase primarily attributed to benefit sanctions. 

Conference recognises that many women wouldn’t choose to work in the sex industry and do so because of economic necessity rather than criminal coercion. It further acknowledges that 74% of off-street prostitutes work in the sex industry to pay household expenses and support their children. 

Conference regrets that current UK legislation forces sex workers to work alone, leaving women vulnerable to crime and the threat of losing their children.  

Conference believes sex workers should have the same rights as workers in other industries.

Conference acknowledges the Home Affairs Select Committee report earlier this year which recommended that sex work in the UK should be decriminalised and Amnesty International’s decision to adopt the same policy.

Conference supports the New Zealand model of full decriminalisation which would give women protections as workers in law.

Conference calls upon the TUC Women’s Committee to adopt a policy in favour of full decriminalisation and to campaign alongside appropriate organisations to achieve this.

The union held a fringe meeting as part of the conference programme to ensure that the voices of sex workers were heard ahead of the debate. Speakers at the meeting included representatives from the GMB sex workers branch, English Collective of Prostitutes and National Ugly Mugs.

The motion caused a degree of controversy and the conference delegation worked extremely hard to get the item to the floor. Debbie Reay, Chair of the Women’s Representative Committee moved the motion but unfortunately following a card vote it fell.

A motion on the same issue was submitted to TUC Congress in the same year but again fell.

Invitation to a fringe meeting. Title: Sex workers speak. Who listens?

ASLEF’s Women’s Committee has continued to campaign on this issue, centring the voices of sex workers by working closely with the English Collective of Prostitutes.

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