Ambassadors, deputies, equality reps
Outside of the Council, branches and committees members get involved as active advocates for Equity and representatives in workplaces. Currently there are three ways members do this but more opportunities are being developed:
Equity Ambassadors are members based around the UK who talk about the union and its work to their colleagues, performing arts students and people starting out in the industry. They keep up to date with what Equity is doing and so can chat with non-members and members who may be a bit less informed about the union. We run training for members who wish to become Ambassadors and following this they receive newsletters and materials to help support what they do.
For some Ambassadors it has been a route into other areas of activity with the union e.g it was an Ambassador who brought us the idea of how to give younger members a bigger voice, other Ambassadors have become branch secretaries, others have organised information drop-ins and open sessions, others were successful in the last round of council and committee elections. Training takes place over two days in different parts of the country and if you are interested in being an Equity Ambassador please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Equity Deputies or 'Deps' are members of Equity who agree to act as a contact point for the union on matters that concern themselves and other members working on the same production. The Deputy is elected at company meetings by their Equity colleagues on the production. One of the first things that should happen on a production is a company meeting to choose the Deputy. After being chosen the Deputy should then contact Equity to introduce themselves and they should also inform the Company Manager.
Equity Deputies have a number of important responsibilities. First, they are on the spot to communicate any difficulties so that they can work with Equity and their fellow cast members to start dealing with problems before situations worsen. In addition, a Deputy recruits new Equity members, collects subscriptions and updates current members. They are also a source of information on other issues affecting not only Equity members but also the company as a whole. All opera Deputies automatically become members of the Opera Deputies' Committee. All Deputies on West End shows become members of the West End Deputies' Committee. They also become part of our online Deputies' Network.
Equity Deputies receive training, a full information pack and contact details for their Equity Organiser. They also receive a commission payment on the subscriptions they collect.
Equity Equality Representatives are Equity members who have been trained in equality issues and how to identify if a situation being experienced by a fellow member at work is covered by the UK equalities and anti-discrimination legislation. They are based around the country and are available to members who may prefer to discuss things with a fellow performer in the first instance. Our equality reps do not undertake representation of members to employers or at tribunals - this work is done by Equity Organisers.
What about you? Equity staff often hear how members are unhappy when they find themselves working next to someone who is not in the union: professionals who are not members and yet get many of the advantages of working on Equity's hard won terms and conditions. If you get fed up about this then why not do something as simple as pin a postcard on a notice-board, pass on your copy of the Equity Magazine, put information in the green room or dressing rooms or canteen, or start a conversation about the benefits of being in Equity, especially if the union has helped you collectively as part of a cast or individually. Such small actions take moments but add up to increasing Equity's visibility in the workplace - if you want materials for your workplace please email email@example.com