Last September I posted about a motion passed at the Equity AGM which gave the executive to mandate to begin negotiations of moving union membership of Irish Equity from SIPTU to it’s sister union in the UK.
Following some feet dragging on the part of SIPTU a meeting finally took place on 7th March 2013 between the Equity Executive consisting of , Bryan Murray, Laurence Foster & Eimear Morrissey, and SIPTU General Secretary Joe O’Flynn, John King (Services Division Organiser), Karen O’Loughlin, newly appointed (Arts & Culture’ Sector Organiser) and Des Courtney (Equity Organiser), in Liberty Hall to discuss this motion.
By all accounts it was a lively debate at which the Equity Executive requested a Tri-Partite meeting between Equity (IRL), SIPTU & Equity (UK). The Equity Executive also requested that following that Tri-Partite meeting that a full ballot of the membership take place to establish and confirm the motion already passed at the AGM on the 2nd September 2012
The Equity Executive also stated that should the majority of the membership vote to stay within SIPTU that the Executive would stand by that outcome & the Equity Executive would work within the new structure. But if the majority of the membership voted to leave SIPTU and affiliate with Equity (UK) that SIPTU would facilitate a hand over process and that accession would be ‘with the blessing’ of SIPTU.
Following some debate it was agreed that a Tri-Partite meeting would take place, but it was clear that a ballot would not be acceptable to SIPTU when pressed further Joe O’Flynn SIPTU (General Secretary) refused to commit, tension at the meeting rose and this was followed by Joe O’Flynn walking out of the meeting.
Following the walkout by the General Secretary the remaining SIPTU delegation and the Equity Executive continued discussions at which point John King said he would hold further discussions with Joe O’Flynn (General Secretary) and reiterate the desire by the Equity Executive to have a Tri-Partite meeting and agreed in advance not to anticipate any outcome, John King told the Equity Executive that it would take 2-3 weeks to arrange.
I don’t expect this will not be the smooth transition as the Equity Executive expect, as SIPTU will attempt to delay such a vote ever taken place. Neither am had I surprised that Irish actors desire to move to Equity UK, terms and conditions of film contracts in recent years are far less than their colleagues in the UK.
Last year on Vikings the largest production in 2012 (€30 million) privately there was a lot of discontent surrounding actor’s contracts, ironically construction and the props department who are also represented by SIPTU enjoy higher pay and conditions of contract. As one actor recently put it (respectful of the drivers) “its now got to the stage where the driver dropping actors off on a film set are earning more per week than the actor“. Watch this space.
The letter sent out to all equity members by the Equity Executive
As you are aware the following motion was passed by a majority of members at our AGM on the 2nd September 2012;
“We, the members now instruct the executive to inform the senior officers of SIPTU, that we wish to begin the process of removing our union from the membership of SIPTU and of merging the affairs of the Irish Equity Group with our sister unions in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. We make this request as, regrettably, we do not believe that our interests are best served by our continued association with SIPTU and that as a result of the recent restructuring of SIPTU our executive no longer receives the support necessary to protect the exploitation of our members work in the global marketplace. We request that the officers of SIPTU facilitate this request as a matter of urgency and assist our move by inviting the leadership of Equity (UK) and our own executive to begin negotiations forthwith”.
We will keep the membership fully aware of developments.
The Equity Executive
Tom Dowling (C) 2013 image by Tom Dowling