Professional wrestlers have been recognised by union Equity for the first time, with a new code of conduct that reflects their roles as “highly skilled performers”.
The new code has been signed by female wrestling organisation Eve – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling, and sets out terms and conditions for the performers, in writing. It also provides a dignity at work policy, and gives wrestlers access to the union.
“Wrestlers are highly skilled entertainment professionals and should have access to the same level of support as performers in other sectors,” Equity said.
Equity organiser Steve Duncan-Rice described the code as “an historic achievement”.
“Professional wrestlers are highly skilled performers deserving of recognition and the support that Equity, the union for the entertainment industry, can provide. Professional wrestling combines aspects of acting, dance, physical theatre and circus,” he said, adding: “The work is precarious, often low paid and physically demanding. Equity believes wrestlers are entitled to the same protections and entitlements that other professional performers experience at work and it is our ambition to engage with promoters across the UK to achieve this.”
The code sets out minimum terms and conditions for wrestlers employed by the company, including ensuring props are in suitable conditions.
The performer also agrees to inform the company of any “planned crowd interactions” prior to a match, so adequate security arrangements can be made.
Under the agreement, the company vows to address audience members who are behaving in a “threatening, discriminatory or offensive way”.
The dignity at work policy sees Eve promise to provide a “working environment and culture” where everyone is treated “with dignity and respect, free from bullying, intimidation and harassment”.
The dignity at work policy outlines what harassment and bullying is, and what should be done to prevent it.
Eve co-founder Emily Read said wrestling had been “misclassified as solely a sport” for too long.
“This has meant wrestlers were not being recognised as the highly trained, multi-skilled performers that they are,” she said, adding that the agreement will help its members “protect themselves and gain the rights and recognition for the work that they do”.
She said she hoped the agreement would become “commonplace throughout professional wrestling”.