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Equity employs minimum wage enforcer

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Equity has upped its campaign against low pay and no pay work in the entertainment sector, creating a new role specifically charged with enforcing the national minimum wage in fringe shows and student films.

The actors’ union has named Emmanuel de Lange as its low pay/no pay representative, a newly created position that began last month. His appointment follows two high-profile and controversial NMW cases that have been successfully supported by Equity at employment tribunals.

In 2013, director Gavin McAlinden was ordered to pay five actors the NMW for their work on Pentecost, a fringe show he produced in 2012 after advertising it as profit-share. McAlinden has since been granted the right to appeal.

Last month, an employment judge ordered that three actors should be paid the NMW for their work on a fringe show also advertised as profit-share – a production of Sappho at the Lord Stanley pub in London, directed by Victor Sobchack and produced by Shaban Arifi.

In his role, De Lange will be responsible for developing and implementing the strategic policy for and direction of Equity’s campaign, which was launched in 2012 to encourage performers to pursue legal action against companies paying less than the minimum wage.

This work will focus on preparing and representing members’ claims for productions not covered by a union agreement, and will include fringe and student shows, as well as non-commercial films.

De Lange said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed Equity’s first low pay no pay industrial organiser. Equity members hugely value the opportunities for exciting work in fringe and independent productions, but they’re also deeply concerned by the variable conditions of this work.

“I’m here for any Equity member having problems on a job not covered by one of our major agreements, as well as to drive improvements to working practices generally.”

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