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Entertainment unions call for ‘anti-harassment clause’ in employment contracts

The #metoo campaign has helped bring sexual harassment in the industry into the open. Photo: Shutterstock The #metoo campaign has helped bring sexual harassment in the industry into the open. Photo: Shutterstock
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The Musicians’ Union, BECTU and Equity are demanding a special anti-harassment clause to be added to employment contracts, in a bid to stamp out abuse and bullying in the sector.

It comes as part of a motion passed at the Trades Union Congress’ Women’s Conference, which claims creative workplaces are “hotspots for discrimination, bullying and harassment”.

The unions are calling on employers to introduce a ‘respect at work’ clause into all staff and freelance contracts, which is designed to “commit the parties to working to deliver respect for all”.

The motion, which has received backing from the TUC, was moved by the MU, seconded by Prospect – BECTU’s parent union – and supported by Equity.

Titled ‘Sexual harassment in the entertainment industries’, it will lead to the establishment of a joint action plan to tackle harassment that can be implemented across unions, and the creation of a cross-union education programme to equip men and women on how to deal with harassment in the workplace.

It also commits to drawing up a strategy to lobby employers about their duty of care and highlight existing advice and help.

The MU has said the email address it set up for musicians to share their experiences of harassment and bullying (safespace@themu.org) is open to anyone working in the entertainment industries.

The motion, which was debated at the TUC Women’s Conference in London on March 9, claims there is a “toxic culture” within industries such as entertainment that has allowed bad behaviour to thrive.

“The competitive nature of the work, often seen as glamorous, and the large number of freelancers are a contributing factor, as is the unspoken acceptance that bullying is part of the creative process allowing ‘talent’ to behave in unacceptable ways,” the motion reads, adding that women have “long known that to speak out is to risk everything” and therefore often remain silent.

BECTU head Gerry Morrissey said the principles set out in the motion could lead to a “step change” for the creative industries, and that “more time, commitment and leadership are needed to create a working environment which says no to bulling and harassment”.

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