Morgane Merteuil

Morgane Merteuil is a sex worker and activist in the french sex workers’ union, of which she has been a general secretary and is now a spokesperson. She is based in Paris.

    Building a Sex Workers' Trade Union: Challenges and Perspectives

    by Morgane Merteuil


    It is a far from straightforward decision to found a union in a sector in which such an organisation has never existed before. For the most part, trade unions today have a (long) history: it may not be rare for workers to join a union, but it certainly is for them to participate in one’s founding and initial building. It is acutely challenging when the work itself to be organised is not entirely legal; when most of the workers are migrants in very precarious situations, who are regularly arrested and deported; when the legal context overlooks, and contributes to, high levels of violence and exploitation; and when, as if all of this was not enough, those who should be showing solidarity are on the other side, fighting to increase the criminalisation of the workers’ activity.

    Despite all of these difficulties, this challenge has been taken-up by sex workers in many countries. Nowadays sex workers’ unions are full agents in social and political struggle, raising a variety of issues, such as women’s emancipation and anti-racism, redefining work and fighting against exploitation .