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Equity ARC 2017: Union to lobby for EU workers post-Brexit

Those seeking citizenship in the UK are required to fill in an 85-page document. Photo: Shutterstock Those seeking citizenship in the UK are required to fill in an 85-page document. Photo: Shutterstock
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Equity is to urgently lobby the government to allow European Union nationals to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

Members voted unanimously in favour of a motion at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference in London asking the union to appeal to the government on behalf of EU nationals working in entertainment.

Speaking at the conference, Laurence Bouvard from the screen and new media committee said that Brexit is hitting EU nationals working in the entertainment industry “hardest of all”.

She explained that those seeking citizenship in the UK are required to fill in an 85-page document alongside hard copies of “everything from bank statements to passports to contracts”, adding that “if you are self-employed the paperwork triples”.

“You must also provide dates of each trip taken outside the UK no matter how long or short, and if any of those trips are on the longer side, even for work, on a cruise ship, touring a play, a film in an exotic locale, you will be denied permanent residency,” Bouvard said.

She warned that, even for those who successfully apply for permanent residency, life in the UK could become “unbearably difficult” for EU nationals.

Henrietta Branwell of the screen and new media committee backed up Bouvard’s comments, saying: “We’ll be too much of a nuisance to employ so producers will take the easy way out and recruit people from the EU who are free of extra expense and restrictions.”

The motion was one of three at the conference on the subject of Brexit. Members also voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the concept of associate European citizenship for creative professionals, asking Equity to lobby the government if necessary.

Chris Gallarus of the Dorset general branch said: “The freedom, the right to travel visa-free in Europe, is under threat and highly likely to be lost – 27 countries with opportunities, potentially made more difficult to work in. What if you need a work permit or travel visa for each and every one of those countries if you’re on tour? Short-notice commercial film, TV and theatre work gone because you’re not going to have time to get a work permit or a visa.”

He expressed concerns that the effect of Brexit on those working in the entertainment industry has not been considered.

Ellie Brooks of the Dorset general branch, agreed, saying: “Our professions are faced with so many barriers and obstacles to working. If a complex visa system replaces freedom of movement in the EU it’s going to destroy a lot of opportunities. It’s going to make a hard job pretty impossible.”

A third motion, proposed by Louis Rolston of the Northern Ireland annual general meeting and unanimously passed, asked that Equity campaigns to maintain existing border agreements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Full coverage of Equity ARC 2017

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