Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Time for me to hand over the batton...

You may have noticed that my posts are becoming more and more infrequent. This is partly because I am very much involved with far more practical methods of getting things changed and partly because so many people have joined the fight that some have got far better blogs than me! Thanks to the guys here:


This has been the definative place to go for all your NMW news and insights for quite some time now. There are links here to all the information that you could possibly need and regular (yes, much more regular than me!) updates on current lawsuits and Equity policy.
The Young Members Committee have been brilliant in taking up this issue as their priority and every year that goes by at Equity's Annual Representative's Conference more motions are passed that help the cause even more.
When I look back at the first few entries on this blog I can see just how far this whole affair has come. That makes me rather proud and very grateful for all the help I've had, too. Claude Starling for one. Many, many more.
My work won't stop and you certainly won't have heard the last of me!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The message is getting across...


The Arts Council have suspended unpaid work advertisements and are reviewing how they advertise these posts in the future.
Together with high profile news stories about unpaid work throughout the creative industries we're making a difference.
The rogue employers better start worrying. Small collaborative projects still have little to fear, as long as you are working with like minded people that are purely in it for the creative gain. I still think that you're better off finding a budget before you embark on such projects but I know it's not always possible. (Been there, done that, written the book, got the t-shirt...literally...)
As I've said before, I intend to keep lobbying Equity Council to set up a working party to see how they can protect the Fringe from the NMW legislation. To be honest, I think that the Fringe will carry on regardless, below the radar. What I and many others want to see is a strengthening of Equity's position on NMW so that, ultimately, Equity is a force to be reckoned with again. It's already happening. Let's keep it up.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Thanks for all your support

Well, it nearly happened.
I got nearly 1000 votes and with a couple of hundred more I would have got on Council.
Ah well. Equity has a ruling faction called the Representative Group who will always vote for eachother. They will deny this, saying that they are just banding together to work for the greater good within the Union and continue to think for themselves.
So why have factions?
Isn't that what we're all doing- thinking independantly and working for the greater good? Why do we need these silly groupings? Block voting doesn't do anything apart from keep certain members elected. Once any party or faction starts to think about purely getting elected, it's not doing its job properly.
I really don't want this to turn into some sour grapes type of rant. I truly hope that the new Council act in all our best interests. The Rep Group have decided that they need some new blood and have elected some of the new Young People's Committee onto Council. It's a step forward- I voted for them too.
Now that the Rep Group are more "out in the open" thanks to the Equity forum I think that there will be many more members watching with interest how things pan out. If the Rep Group want my vote next time then they had better be sure that they work for it. I'm sure that no-one would want members to look at the Rep Group and associate it with the old, stuffy outdated image of Equity and avoid ticking a Rep Group box.

There's still much I can do within the Midlands Area Committee and, with the arrival of the new No/Low Pay leaflet, there's a lot of publicity we need to embark upon. The new leaflet has a much better tone and I think it's a step towards the modern professional image that Equity should adopt.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

It's only taken a year....

Fantastic article in the Stage this week which has decided to report on this issue in a grown-up manner, instead of scraremongering.

Really important changes are on the cards, with some great resolutions passed unamimously at the ARC, which highlight Equity's new attitude to the issue. If the general secretary has recognised that there is a problem then it's a start. It's only taken a year to progress from "members can do what they like" to "problems arise when members do what they like" but it's a big step in the right direction, even if it's a subtle change in stance.
A union protecting the professional interests of its members has to carry on with this way of thinking. Why else would you join a union if not to improve your pay and conditions??
Thankyou Christine Payne and rest assured I will keep watching...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Things are looking up- so what now?

There's definately change coming. What form it'll take, and how long is a matter for discussion, but finally it seems that Equity are taking notice. They are not trying to ignore the issue, as many are speaking up now. Resolutions are being passed, top level meetings are taking place and people high up in the Council are talking about it.
I can keep up the pressure if you vote me onto Council this summer.
As well as practical measures, such as introducing the Fringe Theatre contract for all Fringe theatre and increased pressure on film schools there is a shift in mindset which needs nurturing here. That is equally important as a concrete strategy.
With an empowered membership, who value their place in the profession we can do so much ourselves.
How would you enforce a Fringe Contract? This is where a changed mindset comes in. Actors, if educated on the benefits of such a contract, even when unpaid, will start to ask for them. A contract will give members the power to ask for accounts so that they can see where the money (if any)went.
Eventually this could lead to a clear distinction of what is professional and what is not. Shows or films that have a contract could have a reference number that would go on actor's CVs. This type of "Fringe" credit would then be the only acceptable professional standard to gain entry to Spotlight and Equity, if no other higher paid jobs are evident.
We could look into some sort of co-operative model so that if a project is truly collaborative, it means that no-one can put on plays or make a film with unpaid actors and make a living out of it. All would benefit and it would truly be a profit share, instead of the expectation that profit share means no pay. This model may well be a way for the National Minimum Wage legislation to bypass collaborative projects, something which worries some members working on the Fringe.
Small changes at first. Let's change the culture of cheap labour in this profession bit by bit.
Vote for me and I will make it my mission to put all this in motion.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Standing for Equity Council

Well, if you want a job doing...
I have officically put myself forward as a candidate in the Equity Council Elections later this year.
The Council decide on the direction that the Union goes in and I want to help steer it the right way. Several more actors who feel the same way have joined me in standing. Here's to a fair fight!
Plus, take a look at Tim Davenport's blog- he's singing from the same hymnsheet. He's got lots of useful links to recent debates:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Government are stepping up too...


People are listening.
Things are happening.
Good times!