Dalston Superstore, a staple of London’s queer bar scene, has become the city’s first LGBTQ+ venue to unionize. The news represents a step towards protecting queer workers in a nightclub setting, providing a roadmap for others to follow.
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“Our team have been busy organizing to have a greater say in their working conditions and benefits,” read the Instagram post announcing the news. “This is fresh territory for us, as a venue and as a team; the first steps towards a more accountable future. We signed an agreement to officially recognise Unite The Union on Tuesday 31st May, and our new journey begins together.
“Since we opened our doors in 2009, Dalston Superstore has never stopped evolving. Our staff over the past thirteen years have always been at the vanguard of this evolution: where they lead, we follow.
“Our team now officially stand shoulder-to-shoulder with over 1.5 million workers across the country. As a venue, we continue to ask ourselves fundamental questions about who we are, what we believe in, and what we want our future to look like.”
In addition to the news, Dalston Superstore also confirmed their voluntary recognition agreement with Unite The Union, the second largest trade union in the UK. The agreement outlines “negotiating structures for issues such as pay, terms and conditions and dispute procedures.”
The statement by Unite the Union read, “Unite is pleased to sign a recognition agreement with Dalston Superstore. This will ensure that we can represent our members’ best interests at the venue.
Dalston Superstore is well known throughout London’s LGBTQI+ communities and night time economy for offering a progressive and inclusive environment. This recognition agreement sets an example that other employers should follow.”
Employees Ayanna van der Maten and Max Beecher also spoke on the significance of unionizing in the often challenging service industry. “We’ve worked at Dalston Superstore for a long time and think it’s a great place that is important to the queer community,” they said. “It can however, like many late-night venues, be a challenging work environment. Being part of the union means that we now have the support of Unite and our colleagues to make things better for all of us and feel valued for what we do.
“Working in hospitality is often undervalued as a career and as a result work conditions and expectations can be unreasonable. Being a unionized workplace is an important step in recognising the value of the hard work we all do and sets an example for others in hospitality. We are proud to work at Dalston Superstore as we believe it has improved the lives of many queer people and we see being unionised as a part of that.”