What about the models?

Posted: June 9, 2015 in Site announcements
Tags: ,

20150607 Not-getting-paidMany readers know that I’m a union official in my day job. Starting a fortnight ago, I’m now leading a renewed drive of my union into the fashion modelling industry. Nothing like a challenge: models are about as difficult to organise as you can imagine. They do not have a fixed workplace or even an ’employer’ and effectively work on a gig basis. Their negotiating power is almost nil (you can read what it’s like in first person in this recent xojane feature).

This is a twist given that I’ve been blogging about other aspects of the fashion industry for several years, e.g.:

Then again, the high number of posts about fashion supply chains may not be so surprising: the producers of The True Cost assert that the fashion industry accounts for one-sixth of global employment.

More poignant is that I started writing about insecure work in the Global South in 2011, never guessing that I’d end up fighting it right here, on the home turf. What I didn’t appreciate back then is that, outside of union strongholds, the very notion of employment has been disintegrating in the developed world.

The periphery appears in the core, the South in the North (Professor Andreas Bieler, September 2014)

While precarious forms of labour have always been predominant in the Global South, they have increasingly also spread into the Global North. As a result, trade unions are under pressure, as it is much more difficult to organise a workforce in temporary, vulnerable and constantly changing employment relations (ibid, May 2015)

We can’t sit back and ignore the growing number of people in nonstandard employment just because it’s difficult to reach them. Unions remain the Rolls Royce vehicle of worker voice; if we don’t grow into these areas, the situation will eventually become so intolerable that some other organisation will fill the void but they will lack the resource base and expertise to provide the ‘full service’ workplace representation that comes with union membership.

So it’s really important that this succeeds. Wish me luck! Please check out and ‘like’ the Facebook Page to watch how it goes 🙂

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