The majority of Equity members will not vote on this agreement, and some will be firmly convinced that they should be able to vote, either because they have not yet worked on the West End agreement, but they could very well do so in the coming year, or because they have experience in the West End, but outside the parameters that we have set for voting – that is, these, who worked on the West End agreement over the three years beginning October 5, 2020. A new agreement between SOLT and Equity has been reached to assist actors during the suspension of West End productions and is considered the best framework to maintain the long-term job security of actors and other actors in these unprecedented times. The agreement was strongly supported by all parties concerned and described as the “best way forward” for the theatre sector. It covers all perspectives and contingencies, well-established musicals that have been running for a long time, plays that have only limited constraints to shows that have yet to be opened and productions that were still in rehearsal after the shutdown was announced. The SOLT/Equity agreement is renegotiated every four years. The last “normal” negotiations took place in early 2019 and, at that time, each member who had worked on the agreement in its previous version before the renegotiation was asked about the priorities of our ambition and then received a ballot. In 2023, the next time the deal is negotiated, every member who has worked on the SOLT/Equity West End deal will be interviewed and receive a ballot when negotiations are complete. Equity is a union of 48,000 employees in the entertainment industry. Some of them have never worked (and never will) work at the West End Agreement for Performers and Stage Managers, because they are directors or designers and therefore work on another union agreement or because they are part of our 10,000 strong Variety members – comedians, burlesque actors, cabaret singers, etc.
Under the new agreement, all actors who have a contract can continue under this contract and have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals and performances with dates staggered when the lockdown expires. This measure aims to ensure that actors and actors still have jobs after the ban on attending British theatres is lifted. The new convention will help those still open in long-running shows, limited productions, and shows that are still in rehearsals in the West End. Under the new rules, occupations will continue with existing contracts and will be able to resume on revised dates after theatres reopen – indeed providing the best possible framework to ensure that West End actors will retain jobs after theatres reopen. No union recommends a deterioration of conditions lightly. In this case, we do so because we have reached the limit of the concessions we have been able to obtain from SOLT. Their initial equity proposals on the changes they wanted to make to the agreement were far worse than the final position we are now presenting to members. Originally, SOLT tried to change the category of theatre according to the contracts issued, reduce payments over time, obtain proportional responsibilities and include the increased proportional minimum. What you`re voting on now is the smallest set of variations SOLT needs to encourage its producers to return to work in our West End theatres. The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Equity have reached an agreement on supporting actors during the COVID-19-induced shutdown in the West End, recently extended until 31 May 2020. This is the standard voting union policy, as agreed to by our Internship Committee and Council – the two groups of members you elect every two years to make decisions like this.
3) I am not a member of Equity, but I am working on this agreement. Why don`t I have a say? For almost a month, stages across Britain have been closed and performances cancelled. . . .