HERE ARE SOmE qUESTIONS WE HAVE THOUgHT OF TO ASK bEFORE YOU START WORK What are my hours of work? How and when do I get paid? What is the dress code? How much money do I earn? What cut does the agency take? Are there other expenses for me, like contribution to advertisements, laundry of sheets and towels? What are my duties? Do I have the right to refuse a client? Do I get leave / sick leave? Is there a system of fines, and if there is, how does it work? Does the agency supply condoms, lubricant, etc? It is a good idea to make your own list of things that are important to you to ask and to bring that list with you when you go for the interview. Present yourself as if you are the best person for the job. Be firm and don’t compromise your integrity to meet the agency’s demands. Don’t get discouraged and don’t agree to do anything out of fear of not finding work. There are many clubs and agencies in town. You’ll find something that suits you. If your employer does not respect the terms of your agreement, you might be better off quitting right away before the situation degenerates to the point where your health or your security could be at risk. The chances are slim that it will be possible to maintain a respectful relationship in such a working environment. Remember, your limits deserve to be respected. After you’ve been hired, it becomes more difficult to negotiate your working conditions. From the start, be clear about what you accept and what you refuse to do. Don’t be afraid to insist that all your clients wear a condom and to be paid for all the clients that you meet: the employer’s friends and business associates are also clients. If sex workers had access to all the same protections as other workers they would get paid annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave and protections against unfair dismissals. The law that says you cannot deduct money from an employee’s salary without permission and that fines cannot be given would also apply to sex workers if the work was legal. This is one of the reasons SWEAT supports a decriminalised system, so that these laws would apply to sex workers too. In the meantime it is important to remember that you have the control over your body and decide what you want to do. Another important way to improve your working conditions if you are already working at an agency is to talk to the other workers at the agency. Find out what would be important for them to change. You will then need to negotiate with the owner or manager to change those conditions. Remember that you and the agency BOTH benefit from working together. Write down what you want to say and explain your reasons. The more you get everyone to agree the more likely it is that the owner or manager will listen to you. It is as much in the agency owner’s interest to make sure that you are happy working there. It is difficult to negotiate working conditions when you need the job and are worried that they may fire you. So make sure you have support. We will only ever achieve something that is worthwhile if we stand together. If you want to come and talk to SWEAT about your working conditions please call us or pop in for a visit. You can also join or speak to the national sex workerled movement, Sisonke, who meet at our offices once a month. Sisonke is a movement that can work for you but needs your participation. You and Your SEX WORKER EDUCATION & ADVOCACY TASKFORCE GROUND FLOOR, COMMUNITY HOUSE, 41 SALT RIVER ROAD, SALT RIVER 7925 P.O.BOX 373 WOODSTOCK 7915, TELEPHONE (021)448-7875, FAX (021) 448-7857 E-MAIL email@example.com, WEBSITE www.sweat.org.za Carol Burmeister Graphic Design (021) 689-7884 Work No matter what the police, the law and other people tell you... ...You are a human being worthy of respect. You have chosen this work for whatever your reasons may be. Now try and make sure you keep yourself healthy, safe and in decent working conditions. You deserve it! This pamphlet is designed to give you information that will help you keep safer and improve your working conditions. If you are selling sexual services, whether you are working indoors or outdoors, and whether you have a massage licence or not, your work is considered illegal. It is illegal to provide sex for money and it is illegal to run an agency where sexual services are sold. This illegal status combined with harassment and discrimination, can lead you to work in dangerous circumstances: working in out-of-the-way, dark or unfamiliar places, or accepting to work in unhealthy or exploitative conditions because you think there’s nothing you can do to improve the situation. There is! Sex work is a hidden form of work largely due to the fact that it is illegal and all involved can be subject to arrest and prosecution as it is seen as a criminal offence. Some agencies have fair and safe working conditions and some do not. Workers often complain about unfair deductions, fining and long working hours. The main difficulty in overcoming poor working conditions is that labour legislation does not apply so workers have nothing to fall back on to uphold their rights to decent working conditions. It is really up to the employers to decide how they will run their business. This means that laws like the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which gives employees sick leave and many other benefits, and the Labour Relations Act, which makes sure that if people get fired it is a fair dismissal, do not have to be applied by employers. Workers have rights and responsibilities. The creation of a fair and safe workplace requires inputs from both workers and managers. All employees should follow certain work practices like being on time, not abusing workplace resources like the phone and letting the workplace know when you cannot come to work. If you follow rules that are fair and reasonable it will make it easier to talk about changes to rules that are not. Remember, it takes two to tango! This does not mean that sex workers who work in bad working conditions should just accept that this is the way it will stay. Adults engaged in commercial sex work are not powerless. There are a few things you can do to try and make the working conditions better for yourself. Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into BEFORE you start work. This means asking questions at the interview or when you first go to an agency to ask about work. If you were going to apply for any other job you would want to know how long you have to work every day and what the work is and how much you are getting paid. If you did not know these things you would not know if it is worth working there.
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