East London venue Dalston Superstore is living proof that improving working conditions in nightlife industries is far from being a myth.
The queer bar, which became London’s first-ever unionised LGBT+ venue in June, sets the bar for healthy working conditions in an industry where employees are underpaid and under-valued.
Although workers received £15 an hour – more than the London living wage of £11.05 – their wages weren’t supplemented with tips. Welfare officers’ hours were rather limited due to the job’s fast-paced work flow.
As all staff is queer and many employees are people of colour and LGBT+ hate crimes are on the rise, they feared for their journey back home in the wee hours.
In the aftermath of a staff meeting, Dalston Superstore approached the Unite union in April to make the workers’ grievances heard.
Dalston Superstore’s situation highlights that a compassionate management would never fill the gap for unions’ responsibility to balance the power between workers and employers.
Dan Beaumont, Dalston Superstar’s owner, told The Guardian that unions are a much-needed heads-up in an employer’s hectic work.
“It’s been very difficult because I’ve always wanted to be exemplary as an employer. Having light shone on your failures, especially on the most vulnerable members of your team is a wake-up call.”
Good working conditions didn’t arrive late at the party. Dalston Superstore’s workers are now reimbursed for their taxis, monthly training for new workers has been integrated into the venue’s infrastructure and the grounds have been set for pay rate negotiations.
Fast forward to the present day, Superstore’s Unite branch faces a revolutionized future, where regular meetings are part of the picture and being an example with hospitality workers is more of a reality than an unfulfilled plan.