Join us on May 1, 2024, at Ernst-Reuter-Platz as the vibrant beats of Berlin's renowned nightlife merge with the voices of advocacy. The Berliner Clubarbeitenden Gewerkschaft (BCG) is proud to announce the inaugural "May Parade for Club Workers' Rights," transforming the festive celebration into a profound statement for fair labor practices from 16:00 to 22:00.

Background of Berliner Clubarbeitenden Gewerkschaft (BCG)

The BCG, formed in response to what many see as exploitative conditions in the nightlife sector, quickly garnered support, achieving its initial funding goals within mere days of its inception. This swift momentum underscores the pressing need for change within an industry rife with underpayment and job insecurity. The BCG aims not only to address these immediate issues but also to establish a long-term framework for support and advocacy.

Purpose and Significance of the Parade

The May Parade is not just a demonstration but a declaration that the rights of club workers are paramount. Scheduled on International Workers' Day, the event is a fitting tribute to the contributions and struggles of those who make Berlin’s nightlife possible. The parade will spotlight the demands for an end to precarious employment practices and for a stable, respectful working environment.

Parade Dynamics

The event will feature an electrifying lineup of local DJs including Katja, Rovin, and XHousted, who will deliver thrilling sets that promise to energize the crowd. Interspersed with the music, speakers will articulate the core issues facing club workers, rallying attendees to the cause with compelling narratives of personal experience and collective hope.

Community Involvement and Financial Aspects

With a financial goal set at €2,500, the BCG has so far raised €541 trough paypal but moved it now to gofundme. The funds are earmarked for essential parade logistics such as sound systems and parade trucks, crucial for amplifying the event’s message. The community's support is vital, with just over one week left to reach the full amount needed to ensure the parade's success.

Support the May Parade for Club Workers here

Questions for Berliner Clubarbeitenden Gewerkschaft (BCG):

1.Could you share a few personal stories or testimonials from club workers that highlight the challenges they face? How have these experiences motivated the formation and actions of the BCG?

We would prefer to anonymise the stories and names of our members, as many of them still want to pursue a career in nightlife and our experiences have shown that reputation does matter in this branch.

Our members come from different clubs and backgrounds. Many of the people active with BCG are nightlife workers who have experienced problematic working conditions in the nightlife industry. Some have ran into problems when attempting to create a workers’ council (Betriebsrat) within their companies, others complain about long and understaffed shifts for very low salaries. Other issues that have been mentioned to us are breaks being too short or interrupted, employees getting paid too late, wrongful calculation of holidays or sickness times, broken working materials, lack of resources for work safety, unlawful terminations and chaotic shift planning.

We believe that the general working conditions in the club scene need to be improved and strategies that ensure workers’ health and social security need to be elaborated by clubs. We aim to arm people with strategies and knowledges so they can tackle issues right when they arise.

Many club workers in Berlin do not speak English, so one of our ongoing projects is offering German courses to club employees, so they are able to understand contracts and other documents, can react to situations in the moment they occur, and cannot be exploited due to their lack of language skills.

2.Can you tell us more about the choice of DJs and performers for the parade? How were they selected, and what do they represent in the context of this movement?

The majority of the performers have worked in clubs themselves (5 out of 8 artists). The other artists are part of Berlin-based collectives that support our struggles and want to help us. Lunchbox Candy is a Berlin-based collective that celebrates queerness and fosters a space for radical self-expression inclusive to all gender and sexual identities. Concrete is a Berlin-based label and event agency that has experience with organising a float for e.g. the „Rave the Planet“ parade and collaborates with local artists and collectives.

All artists have agreed to perform for free for us and donate us their performances and DJ sets. We are also open for the support of other artists from the scene that would like to offer us their creativity and contribute to reaching our goals.

It was important for us to book people from the local scene for our first public event to stress our aim of community building and give them a platform to showcase their talent for a good cause. We put a focus on FLINTA artists this time to underline our call for diversity in club environments. We are happy to get in touch with all scene actors that form the club cosmos to elaborate sustainable and realistic concepts.

We decided on playing different techno genres during the parade because it is the music the Berlin club scene is most famous for, it carries a lot of energy that we want to deliver to people and make noise together for our cause, and it is the common denominator of many club workers that keeps us working for this culture and scene. The performances and DJ sets will be accompanied by political speeches introducing our philosophy and demands.

3.Considering the financial challenges highlighted by the fundraising efforts, what long- term financial strategies is the BCG considering to sustain its activities and support its members?

We are currently in the process of legally registering as an organisation. Once the registration is completed with the court in a few weeks, we will be able to ask for a small membership fee from our members. These membership fees will be kept low, so all club workers can afford them.

In exchange we offer them language classes, networking and exchange opportunities, discounts and benefits for legal services, and workshops. We also aim to support workers in setting up workers’ councils in their companies if they wish to do so and establishing contact with other unions and lawyers if needed. In the future, we aim to become an own legally registered union or join an existing one, so we can offer our members full protection.

In addition, we are in contact with different institutions and spaces that have offered us meeting rooms and are applying for different funding opportunities. Currently our work is mostly done by volunteers, who we want to offer compensation perspectives in the long run. We are very grateful to all volunteers and donors that have supported us on our journey. 

4.What efforts are being made to educate the public and club owners about the rights and needs of club workers? Are there workshops, meetings, or other educational events planned?

From the end of May on, we will offer free counselling on simpler legal topics. We also offer free language classes for club workers if they want to learn German. Every two weeks, we organise a meeting and after work social, where club workers and supporters can get in touch with us, discuss ideas and problems, become active, and exchange their experiences. We work on organising further events and workshops in the future. In addition, we post information on social media to spread awareness for issues that seem to be common in the club branch.

5.Beyond the parade, what specific actions or campaigns does the BCG plan to initiate in the near future? How will these build on the momentum from the May 1st event?

Currently we are working on launching multiple projects and campaigns that aim to strengthen workers’ rights. Among others, there are the aforementioned counselling offers and German classes. We plan on a campaign about hearing protection, which is crucial for many club workers and often still not provided by the employer, as well as further information postings and content on club workers’ rights. We also want to support all club workers who aim to found a workers’ council (Betriebsrat) in their endeavours and become a partner and networking platform for all nightlife workers in Berlin.