LGBTQ+ bar Dalston Superstore becomes ‘first unionised queer venue’

Emma Flint June 16, 2022
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Dalston Superstore's exterior shutter, decorated in colourful rainbow display of colours. On either side are other small, lcoal London businesses.

The exterior of Dalston Superstore on November 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie Thistlethwaite/Getty Images)

London LGBTQ+ bar Dalston Superstore has become the first-ever unionised queer venue in the city.

The east London venue made its announcement on 15 June via Instagram, positing a black and white photo of its staff celebrating the news. Underneath the photo, the caption read: “Dalston Superstore is now (we think) the first unionised queer venue in London, maybe the UK.

“Our team have been busy organising to have a greater say in their working conditions and benefits.⁠ 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.”⁠

The statement continued: “Since we opened our doors in 2009, Dalston Superstore has never stopped evolving. Our staff over the past 13 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.⁠ Watch this space!⁠”

In addition to their own personal announcement, Dalston Superstore’s post also included a statement from Unite The Union, Britain and Ireland’s biggest trade union.

The statement by Janet McLeod, Unite’s service sector organiser, said: “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. ⁠I am proud of the efforts of our members to secure this agreement. It will inspire hospitality workers to organise with Unite at their workplaces for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The signed voluntary recognition agreement provides a structured guide to negotiating workplace issues, such as disputes, rate of pay, and terms and conditions.

Although Dalston Superstore’s staff have nothing but praise for the venue, Ayanna van der Maten and Max Beecher, two employees and Unite representatives, admitted that working a late-night venue can sometimes being challenging.

“It can however, like many late-night venues, be a challenging work environment,” they said. “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.”

It’s a stark contrast to the ongoing dispute across the Atlantic, with Starbucks allegedly threatening to take away trans healthcare coverage for staff as part of the company’s ongoing row with its burgeoning union.

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