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Actors call for law change to protect them from rogue working practices

Equity members vote at the union's Annual Representative Conference 2017. Photo: Philip Hartley
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A campaign is being launched to tackle rogue theatre bosses who break employment law.

The campaign aims to push for legislation changes that would mean rogue employers could be pursued by the legal system without an identified worker having to take personal action.

At present, employers that break laws in areas such as pay and working hours can only be pursued by the legal system when an individual takes action, however a motion at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference argued that many are unwilling to do this. This means nothing is done to prevent the employer from continuing to engage workers under illegal conditions.

Proposing the motion, Robert Swinton from the Birmingham and West Midlands General Branch said he was aware of producers who have not given the legal requirement of rest days or paid below the minimum wage on several occasions and gone unpunished.

“Our motion asks that when the law is broken there should be a reaction consummate with a breach of employment law… There has to be a disincentive for managers who repeatedly flout employment law and the courts should deal with it as a serious offence, particularly when it is repeated. We must not put up with it,” he said.

Speaking on the motion, Tracey Briggs, from the Midlands Area AGM, added: “If you want to bring a complaint against bad employment practice you have to put your head above the parapet, and even with Equity’s support, you have to be the named complainant. We all know how hard it is to be alone, to be brave enough to stand up and challenge the boss.

“We’ve got a growing gig economy so it’s not just our industry that is affected by this, which is why we need the TUC involved. The law needs to change so our trade unions can go and fight for us and we don’t have to be afraid.”

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