Sunday, 5 November 2017

We do not and will not tolerate abusive behaviour

Dear Colleagues,

It's been difficult to post regularly since starting my new post at Equity. It has been a fascinating time to join Equity and to support the union's historical mission to eradicate a culture of abuse and harassment. The social, political and cultural nature of the problem was spelt out clearly by Equity's General Secretary in a detailed Morning Star article on 31st October.

A particularly important theme of the article is that as the union for workers in the creative industries, Equity will still be focusing on this problem long after the media interest has dissipated.

The scale of sexual harassment is no surprise for women in the creative industries, writes Equity general secretary CHRISTINE PAYNE

IT HAS almost been a month since the Harvey Weinstein revelations began to emerge The scale of alarming testimonies from well and lesser-known performers may have come as a surprise to some, but they are an all too familiar reality for the thousands of workers in the creative industries — particularly women.

Defending Equity members individually and collectively from sexual and other forms of harassment in the audition room, in rehearsal spaces and in the workplace is the everyday business of our union.
We do not and will not tolerate abusive behaviour by employers or engagers.
Equity has been able to provide support and legal assistance to a number of members who have reported incidents to us over the years.

We will continue to do this and encourage any performer who has experienced bullying, harassment or intimidation at work at any time in the past to contact Equity’s offices or email on a confidential basis We are also mindful of the fact that many of those working in our sector are self-employed, precarious workers.

Precarity is often linked to the denial of basic employment rights such as the National Living Wage and health and safety at work. In an environment of ongoing cuts to arts funding and combined with the highly competitive nature of the labour market, precarity leads to an environment where performers and other creative workers fear that speaking up in defence of their rights will lead to them being excluded from future work opportunities.

Instead of reporting inappropriate behaviour, too many creative workers choose to keep their heads down and try to stick it out until the end of their short-term contract. It is vitally important for these workers to join and get active in their union in order to access individual help, but also to be part of our collective efforts to fight for dignity and respect at work. Bullying and sexual harassment of workers is never acceptable. It cannot be excused as being “part of the creative process” or explained away as an unfortunate adjunct of the informal networking and highly subjective recruitment practices that pervade the entertainment industry.

The reality is that our sector, like any sector of the economy, must respect employment and equality laws from the moment a worker is recruited through to when they finish the job. Equity will continue to challenge any employer who abuses or exploits our members. We will also continue to fight for equality across the industries where we organise performers and we will seek to extend the protections in our collective agreements to emerging areas of work.

We will empower our members to tackle inappropriate behaviour through promoting and building on our recently published Casting Questions guidance, which are available here:

In response to the demand from members to report historical and recent allegations, in the coming weeks we intend to establish a working group within Equity to gather testimonies from our members: women and men, LGBT+, disabled and BAME. We will also work with other campaigning groups in the industry, including Equal Representation for Actresses, Women@Rada and Women in Film and TV to amplify each other’s demands and identify initiatives that others are working on to address harassment.

The recommendations of our working group will be presented to employers across the sector for action towards the end of this year. We will also highlight our existing campaigns seeking to achieve structural changes to the industry.

Women in Equity have campaigned tirelessly for many years to achieve equal representation on stage and screen, for better portrayal of women in the media and have called out the discrimination faced by older performers. They have also lobbied for women to hold more positions of power throughout the industry and demanded more opportunities for women directors and writers. It is well past the time for the industry to act on these demands.

The Weinstein revelations will no doubt be followed by further disclosures across the film, television, theatre and wider media industries. This is a key moment for the industry to harness the energy generated by the current furore and seize the opportunity to make changes that can eliminate bad practice. Many employers have expressed an appetite for measures to prevent poor practice and again, Equity can help with this.

A first, practical step that employers can take is to sign up right now to Equity’s Manifesto for Casting, available at

The manifesto sets out Equity’s vision of how the process of casting — which is the main recruitment method used in our industry — can be made more professional, fairer, less stressful and more inclusive. The manifesto reminds employers that it is unlawful to discriminate in the engagement of performers on the grounds of their Protected Characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010.
Crucially, the manifesto also reiterates important provisions covering nudity and sex scenes from Equity’s collective agreements, namely, that no sex act should be requested at any audition and a performer should not be requested to undress in whole or in part unless a mutually agreed observer is present.

In the weeks ahead as the media interest in this story begins to wane, Equity will continue to organise and campaign around this issue. We will do all that we can to ensure that the statements that have been made by those with power in our industry are followed up with concrete and real action which will bring about the radical change needed to make our industry safer for all creative workers.
Christine Payne is the general secretary of Equity.

In Solidarity


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Social Change and Creative Activism in the 21st Century


I am highly conscious of the limited number of posts written. The last few months have been difficult, and I am just about to take on a new trade union role (of which I shall post separately) but for now just wanted to plug an exciting new book (Social Change and Creative Activism in the 21st Century by Silas Harrebye) which aligns with a core feature of my doctoral research.

Here is a good review of the book here:

Although Harrebye's key interests are creative actors able to facilitate a transition beyond traditional modes of protest and action, my interest is the overlap between his definition of creative activism, and my research focus on embodied learning and embodied activism.

Harrebye creates what I argue is a false dichomotomy between what he argues is an older, redundant tradition of workplace/street-based activism, and that generated and populated by a distinct cohort of cultural and artistic activists. He cites his parents generation as representative of the former, and casts them as part of a grey, monolithic bloc, and fails to engage with, given his Danish heritage, the monumental achievements of the Danish trade union movement/left as part of the Nordic 20th century social movement that created a foundational welfare state.

It is a very interesting book, and as I transition to a trade union for actors, entertainers and creatives I am hoping to make a link between my existing research interests and what will be a new, exciting area of work for me.

In Solidarity


Monday, 11 September 2017

The Legacy of Paul Hockaday

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to say that, as recognition of Paul's significant community development work in Bangor since 2002, his sad death, and continuing legacy, have been acknowledged in both the Daily Post, a national Welsh paper, and the local Bangor Mail.

You can read the articles here:

In Solidarity


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Celebrating the Life of Paul Hockaday: 1st September 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The funeral service, cremation and wake for Paul Hockaday has been organised for 1st September in Bangor, North Wales.

If anyone who knew Paul would like to attend the service, and pay their respects to him please contact me.

In Solidarity


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Paul David Hockaday 18.11.63 - 22.07.17

Dear Colleagues,

On Saturday 22nd July my closest friend Paul Hockaday passed away.

The nature of his death, and sudden departure is a devastating blow to me, my family and Paul's wide circle of friends and associates.

I just wanted to get a quick post into my blog, just to record Paul's passing, and will return soon to record his life more properly.

In the meantime to get a sense of Paul's life, but in particular how, as a community development and youth worker, he enriched the lives of those he worked with directly and indirectly across North Wales, please click on these links:

In Solidarity

Ian Manborde

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

When the race to the bottom becomes the race to the robots

Dear Colleagues,

Just read a fascinating article in today's FT which covers in detail an emerging picture of new technologies impinging upon the established 'race to the bottom' (R2B) phenomena in accounting for how the global industrial shift, under-written by finance capital, is ever on the hunt for the next cheaper, less regulated global region from which to spin a key cog in the global supply chain.

The article, Stitched up the Robots, makes clear that the R2B phenomena is being disrupted by the rise of the robots (to use the phrase of Martin Ford's popular book:, and may, over time, unsettle this profound feature of the globalisation phenomenon.

The FT article is here:

Please read the article and post thoughts/comments in reply.

In Solidarity


Tuesday, 18 July 2017


Dear Colleagues,

Another short post sent whilst in the midst of writing-up my thesis (and today hold-up at the British Library) and to plug a new book. I have been reading and re-reading a lot of the output of Andrew on labour geography (here's his profile: and for those unsure of what it meant by labour geography, Herod states:

The notion of “spatial praxis” is firmly on the intellectual agenda in human geography. The making of the economic and social landscape in particular ways is now recognized as being fundamental to the articulation of political power (cf. Harvey, 1982; Soja, 1989; Lefebvre, 1991). In this paper I argue, however, that whilst they recognize landscapes are socially constructed, many economic geographers and theorizers of the geography of the capitalist space-economy — both mainstream and Marxist — have tended either to ignore the role of workers in making the economic geography of capitalism or have frequently conceived of them in a passive manner. Although during the past two decades economic geographers have generated a considerable literature which seeks to understand how capital attempts to make the geography of capitalism in particular ways to facilitate accumulation and the reproduction of capitalist social relations, there has been much less work which examines and attempts to theorize explicitly how workers actively shape economic landscapes and uneven development. Labor’s role in making the economic geography of capitalism has been rendered largely invisible by the analyses both of traditional mainstream neoclassical economic geographers and also, ironically, by many Marxists, for both approaches primarily present economic geographies devoid of workers as active geographical agents. Second, and following from above, I wish to return agency to workers in the literature on the development of economic geographies. This means conceptualizing labor not merely in terms of “factors” of location or the exchange value of “abstract labor” but to treat working class people as sentient social beings who both intentionally and unintentionally produce economic geographies through their actions — all the while recognizing that they are constrained (as is capital) in these actions.

If interested you can read the entire article here:

Herod's focus on labour geography is an important feature of characterising a new labour internationalism and alongside issues of worker and activist agency, has been critical to my thesis.

It is in the context of agency and Herod's focus on "working class people as sentient social beings" that Herod has approached his new book, which will be published in October by Wiley:

The blurb for the new book reads:

Labor is the source of all wealth. Without workers, the world's natural resources cannot be transformed into finished goods and services cannot be delivered. Labor, though, is a uniquely important resource for the very simple reason that working people have sentience. Whilst a business might seek to employ workers in much the same way as it does any other resource, unlike these other resources labor is capable of altering its own conditions of existence and so of challenging how it is used by others. In this book, Andrew Herod offers an original and wide-ranging analysis of labor as a multi-faceted and truly global resource. Opening with a rich overview of the migration streams and demographic trends that have shaped the planetary distribution of labor, he goes on to explore how globalization and the growth of precarious work are impacting working people's lives. A wide range of examples is examined to illustrate the ongoing struggles faced by workers worldwide – from forced labor and child labor in West Africa's cocoa and southeast Asia's shrimping industries to the labor practices affecting so-called 'knowledge workers'. Herod concludes by surveying some of the ways in which working people are taking action to improve their lives, including forming trade unions and other labor organizations, occupying factories in places like Argentina and Greece, and establishing anti-sweatshop campaigns. This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the state of labor in today's global economy.

Looks like a fascinating book and at £14.99 for the paperback, relatively cheap to purchase - and much, much cheaper than similar texts on the plight of the global working class.

If you do get your hands on a copy please post your thoughts in response to this post.

In Solidarity