Equity’s Annual Representative Conference was held in London 21 and 22 May, a yearly opportunity for the disparate sectors of the entertainment industry to meet together and discuss issues affecting our working lives. The conference has resulted in a number of important and influential motions being passed that will now be binding on Equity’s Council to act on. Here is a summary of the more important subjects that were discussed.


An over-arcing theme this year was obviously Brexit, and all its worrying implications for the entertainment industry. Among the points highlighted was the plight of the Northern Irish film industry, currently making an enormous contribution to the UK economy with hit shows such as Game of Thrones. With the threat of a hard border with Ireland, and the removal of freedom of movement, Northern Ireland’s film industry risks being completely wiped out as companies may simply move their base of operations over the border into Ireland in order to remain in the EU, thus knocking out the foundations of what is currently a thriving industry. Another point raised was the vulnerable situation Equity’s EU national members find themselves in; a motion to support them and petition government on their behalf was passed unanimously. There was also discussion of supporting any form of associate EU membership for UK nationals wishing to work in the EU, which, of course, is where more and more work in based.


There were also calls for support  in the areas of equality and diversity, asking that the union pay particular attention to issues around social mobility, casting of minority ethnic members, and provide more accessible training for deaf and disabled members. It was also agreed that the union will publish a list of questions that are unlawful to be asked in interviews under current legislation, so that members are informed of their rights before going into castings and interviews.


Another hot topic was the ever-contentious issue of poor rates of pay. Several motions were passed that supported the union doing everything it can, within the constraints of competition law, to promulgate proper rates and educate members about them, in areas that are becoming increasingly fragmented and don’t have representative bodies to negotiate with. Concerns were also raised about the brand new BBC Studios, a commercial production company acting as a subsidiary of the BBC. Although in and of itself a potentially positive development, allowing the BBC to compete in the commercial market, the union is not happy that the BBC wishes to continue employing actors on its old noncommercial in-house agreement for this new output, rather than a proper commercial agreement such as the other commercial independent production companies use.


Less urgent, but equally important, several motions dealt with aspects of our working lives, calling for more support with child care and bullying issues, as well as further training in areas such as self-taping and general technology. Although the union has already made great strides in all of these areas, the motions will give even more of a mandate to Council to make sure projects are followed through.


Finally, it was agreed that due to the drop of the pound and subsequent rise in inflation, the subscription rates will increase from next January, rising to £128 for the minimum annual subscription rate, and rise in the entrance fee to £31.


There are currently elections being held for the area and industrial committees of Equity – make sure your voice is heard! Remember to fill in and return your ballot. It’s your union; make sure you pick the people you want to be your voice.