Brit Entertainment Unions Okay Progressive Policies

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC), Britain’s 54 affiliated entertainment unions, gathered in conference this week in Brighton, backing efforts to improve health and safety requirements and protect workers who are victims of low or no pay.

“Phil Mills, a leading branch representative at the National Theatre and an NEC member, led the debate on the union’s health and safety motion which urged a major re-think of plans to weaken health and safety regulation.” That’s according to the website for the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU), which has about 26,500 members working in broadcasting, film, theatre, entertainment, leisure and interactive media.

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By debate’s end, BECTU offered a motion urging rejection of “”the Government’s pursuit of a weakened health and safety regime in which workers can be denied full protection depending on their employment status, or the arbitrary definition of their workplaces as ‘low’ or ‘high’ risk.”

The union also offered a motion to protect new and underpaid workers. The motion read in part:

Congress notes that this shift in employment patterns harms individual and collective employment rights. Insecure employment reduces workers’ ability to assert their rights and it reduces their bargaining power.

The precarious nature of employment for new entrants often results in them feeling forced to accept poor conditions and dissuades them from challenging law-breaking employers for fear of being labeled as ‘trouble-makers’.

BECTU reported that both motions were unanimously approved.

Equity is joining with BECTU and the other union affiliates to push TUC’s two major public protests this autumn under the banner “March for a Future that Works.”

Equity’s website noted:

On 20 October the TUC’s March for a Future that Works will challenge the Government’s assertion that cuts and austerity are the only approaches to recession and on 24 October UK Feminista, a gender equality campaigning organization, will lead a march and lobby to urge politicians to take urgent action to defend women’s rights.

Equity “is calling on members to get behind the Equity banner and raise their voices in support of the arts,” the union’s report stated.