|Topic: Equity Lo/No Pay Working Party|
|This is by way of a shout-out to all interested members of Equity (unfortunately, if you're not a member of Equity, you probably won't be able to log in to see the report sadly) regarding the recommendations that have been passed by Equity as the result of a working party held to discuss the issue of lo/no pay within the industry. I sat on this working party with the attitude that it was vitally important for the Union to be grappling with these issues (which it has been neglecting for too long), and am proud to say that the Equity Council actually stood by all the recommendations made in the working party's report. These are still really only guidelines (and a bit of a drop in the ocean, in many ways) but I still think it's important to recognise that the Union has begun to at least move towards tackling some of the questions that exercise us so regularly on these forums. Hopefully, we may even see improvements emerging in the fringe/lo pay sectors of the industry if certain developments follow through in the long run.|
Equity itself will probably have posted you an email (as it posted me one, even though I sat on the party!), so I suspect my post is a bit otiose, but I always think these things may be of more interest with a personal recommendation. I am also assuming that if the deliberations are freely downloadable, there's no confidentiality surrounding the issue anymore. The basic recommendations are carried in the Council Report for 21st February at https://www.equity.org.uk/documents/council-report-21-february-2012/, and that document contains a further link to the actual report drawn up by the working party, which contains some more detail on some of the interesting ideas that were discussed, and some intriguing appendixes, including some details on HMRC and its relationship to film schools.
There is also an interesting set of developments happening within Equity at the moment regarding the development of a (working!) 'online branch' in connection with a redevelopment of the entire union structure that might significantly alter relationships with the union (for the better, let's hope) for the computer literate amongst us. As yet, it's very early days for this, but I hope to be able to bring some suggestions to bear on these developments as well. If anyone would like to PM me with suggestions for what they might like to see developing from a potentially revamped Equity web presence, let me know, and I will try to pass on recommendations to the tech providers.
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|Posted : 24/02/12|
|Thank you Lee. For sharing this very positive information. I have asked questions about Equity in the public domain before, and I was inspired with the frank, honest and brave replies from all quarters.|
I hope you and all involved in this process, at this time, continue to make progress.
|Posted : 24/02/12|
|Posted : 25/02/12|
Please would you email me directly?
For reasons I only half-understand this website won't allow me to PM you.
All the best,
|Posted : 27/02/12|
|Thanks Lee. It's good to know Equity is getting to grips with the important issue of low/no pay. This affects every single one of us.|
|Posted : 26/04/12|
|It seems that everything I asked for in 2009, rejected by the then Equity Council, has now at last, been taken on board!|
|Posted : 26/04/12|
|As to that, I have no idea why Council have altered their approach. Perhaps they have finally seen the writing on the wall (and, in a few instances since 2009, we may have seen more amenable Councillors elected - although from what I am told, Council remains quite intractable and obscurantist on many levels). Perhaps it is simply that the Working Party was felt to represent a fully constitutional cross-party consensus on the issue, and the suggestion that most reforms should be taken up by Council was surprisingly unanimous once the debates were over within the working party.|
It is worth noting that, in my opinion, these resolutions remain positive guidelines in the right direction - many are not as strongly termed as many members would like - and some of the most pressing issues were ones that divided opinion so much (such as trying to institute regulations on the Fringe) that no actual agreement was reached or resolution passed. The significance of the working party appears to me to be that a) it demonstrated that many different members of the profession - young actors starting out, directors, stage managers, older jobbing actors, those who run collaborative companies and so on, are *all* recognising that intolerable conditions have come to prevail at the lower end of the current industry: we are not isolated in these opinions on the CCP forums and b)Equity as a union, perhaps because of important shifts in the Presidency etc., or maybe because of longer term trends, is finally beginning to recognise that lo/no paid work actually stands as legitimate, if degraded, work for those attempting to find their way in the profession. During the past twenty years, even getting an acknowledgment that non Equity work was to be considered 'legitimate', let alone that it was a pressing need to regulate the spread of such work on members' behalf, was a losing battle.
There are, of course, for those who pay attention to these things, shakeups in Equity structure being heatedly discussed at the moment that would, if implemented, totally revise the way in which the union functions in relation to its membership, and are (in comparative terms at least) probably the most radical proposals to be made in regards to the union for 20-30 years. The question for us remains whether the new changes will serve to empower our voices further, or whether they will actually threaten progress in such areas as lo/no pay discussion by rendering it of too peripheral a concern. For this reason, I'd urge anyone who considers themselves to be interested in the democratic accountability of the union to be keeping an eye on reports that have derived from the Financial Stability Working Party (the proposed new reforms are said to have emerged in the first instance because of the need for Equity to tighten purse strings and reduce expenditure, but are actually much more wide reaching, concerning abolition of proliferating committees, replacement with specific industrial committees including, for instance,a dedicated screen committee for the first time, reduction of Council numbers, more forceful election guidelines, encouragement of greater online decision making and networking and so on). Whether or not mass reform will go through, will proceed in an attenuated form or will be defeated, is a process that has been stalled for the moment because final decisions have been deferred until at least this year's Annual meeting. However, it is certain that the issues surrounding these developments will be the biggest topic of debate at this meeting this year, and all Equity members are eligible to attend should they wish. Let's hope that we collectively keep Equity on the right track, continuing to prioritise the problem of lo/no pay issues, and not simply allowing the officers to resolve that they have 'dealt with' it.
|Posted : 22/05/12|
|If you are on Facebook take a look at this!!!|
|Posted : 22/05/12|
|Well, quite, Dan! That Facebook group, by the way, for anyone who clicks on the link, is a pretty good community devoted to highlighting issues of 'no/lo pay' when they are being discussed in the media, and worth subscribing to, in my opinion.|
Naturally, a budget that is a couple of years out of date is not necessarily representative of what is happening here and now, but Equity are well aware in general that the amount of revenue the film schools generate from their students is in no way reflected in their outlay on supporting actors who come to assist in the making of student films! There was considerable discussion of this during the lo/no pay party, and it was a discussion that I contributed to quite heavily, as it's close to my heart.
The main difficulty that Equity appears to have with it all is that, if there is any validity at all in the exemption that most film schools claim - namely, that they operate for legal and tax purposes as charities, hence employ only volunteers and not workers on projects (the legal distinction is important), then there is no actual requirement for them to pay those who render services to them (unless this is at student discretion). For some years, I didn't think that there was any legal standing to this argument, because I misinterpreted something Tim Gale (Equity's legal officer) told me - but it appears that, in fact, there may be a basis for the exemptions.
Of course, the counter-argument is that there is no reason the film schools should be considered charitable if outside workers are engaged on the basis of any kind of contractual agreement, which is presumably constituted every time a student offers an actor a job. From this perspective, we are workers and owed at least NMW every time we're engaged. It remains a grey area which HMRC would really need to rule on in order for an answer to prove definitive, and so Equity continues to press the idea of bringing test cases for infraction of NMW if it can. HMRC was recently said to be more amenable to Equity's side of the debate, because they want to make sure that the film schools are paying their way in a time of recession, but, in truth, no-one knows quite which way any formal ruling would go. Until that time, the position remains uncertain.
The actual final recommendations in respect of the film schools were a little watered down, in my opinion: in the sense that they didn't suggest anything other than that Equity continue to uphold a commitment to monitoring the schools' behaviour and engaging in dialogue with them...but all the more reason that we should be flagging up and disseminating things like these accounts, I suppose.
As a final point, it is interesting that, if the Equity restructure goes ahead, there will be an entirely new Committee devoted to Screen work. Equity seems to have singularly ignored setting up any significant bodies to deal with screen issues over the last twenty years or so, and this new move to recognise how much a part of modern acting life working for screen is, is to be welcomed. It may be that with a dedicated screen committee in place this sort of monitoring of film schools can be made much more active. But even this may take a couple of years before it achieves results.
|Posted : 24/05/12|
|This a really fantastic thread and I totally agree with all the arguments being put forward.|
Actors need to be able to work at minimum wage, but where possible since we are freelance & self-employed I believe that minimum wage should be higher than the national minimum wage to take into account the associated costs of going to work, including travel, health care, loss of holiday pay, etc.
I am standing for Equity Council in the forthcoming elections in June and this is a campaign I am really interested in getting further involved with. We've all taken jobs we knew paid less than was fair, and I want to see an end to that on all levels.
Please like my Facebook page below and share your thoughts with me. This is not a battle that can be fought alone, and I welcome any and all feedback on how to improve the situation for us all.
|Posted : 24/05/12|
|Perhaps a "Living Wage" is more appropriate than a Minimum wage, but I like your statement and also the "regardless of age" bit ;-))|
I have liked you on FB. Please fight for the online branch if you get elected.
Will set about filling in my ballot ASAP
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