Our International Work

Solidarity Statement & Advice Regarding SAG-AFTRA Industrial Action 2023

Statement from the General Secretary of Equity, Paul W Fleming

"SAG-AFTRA is Equity’s sister union representing performers on screen in the United States. They are currently in negotiations with the AMPTP - the engagers association for film and TV producers in the United States. Earlier this year, SAG-AFTRA balloted their members to achieve authorisation for strike action if it was necessary to achieve a good settlement in these negotiations. Today, SAG-AFTRA’s Board has taken the brave step of authorising a strike.

"SAG-AFTRA’s claim to the producers contains many critical elements for performers on their agreements. The key elements of the claim are longstanding, shared fights for our unions –issues like pay and residual payments. But SAG-AFTRA, like Equity, is also bravely facing head-on existential questions on issues like Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the rise in virtual auditions and self-tapes. Securing fairness in pay, terms, and conditions is critical whether they be with traditional producers, or new global streamers, and with new modes of making and distributing work to a global audience.

"Equity stands full square behind our sister union in their claim, and the action their Board have agreed to take. Equity too is experiencing bullish engagers attempting to undermine its collectively bargained agreements. SAG-AFTRA has our total solidarity in this fight.

"We say clearly to the AMPTP and their members that they need to move significantly and swiftly to meet the reasonable aspirations of SAG-AFTRA’s members. The members of our unions, and all entertainment unions across the globe, create the vast wealth within our industry – it is right and just that they have decent, modern pay and conditions.

"Equity has been in constant contact with our sister union throughout the negotiations at every level – including the President and General Secretary attending in person in Los Angeles earlier this month. We will continue to work closely and collaboratively on advice for artists working in the United Kingdom as the situation develops.

"Industrial relations legislation in the United Kingdom is draconian, and often viewed as the most restrictive in the Western world. The convoluted and pernicious hurdles faced by all unions in the United Kingdom are a national disgrace and need urgent reform. The regrettable consequence of this framework is that what artists working in the United Kingdom – whether SAG-AFTRA and/or Equity members (or both) – can do, may be different from their comrades in the United States and other parts of the world.

"Equity is fighting alongside the rest of the trade union movement in the UK to reform our illiberal industrial relations framework in parliament, in the courts, and on the streets.

"Detailed advice for artists working in the UK who are Equity and/or SAG-AFTRA members is set out below. Furthermore, Equity will be organising demonstrations, rallies, and protests in the coming days and weeks to show our solidarity with our sister union and their fight.

"As Equity’s motto says: To all artists good work. To all workers good art. To all people: Equity.

"And to SAG-AFTRA: Victory."

Equity and SAG-AFTRA have also issued a joint statement which can be read here.

Advice Concerning SAG-AFTRA Industrial Action – 13th July 2023

Here we set out Equity’s advice for members on the strike action in an easy-to-read way, based on the most common ways in which they are engaged.

You will see that the primary legal problem is this:  We have been advised by SAG-AFTRA that its strike is lawful according to United States law but we have been advised by our UK lawyers that it is not lawful under United Kingdom law. Consequently, a performer joining the strike (or refusing to cross a picket line) in the UK will have no protection against being dismissed or sued for breach of contract by the producer or the engager. Likewise, if Equity encourages anyone to join the strike or not cross a picket line, Equity itself will be acting unlawfully and hence liable for damages or an injunction. What follows is based on that advice from SAG-AFTRA and our lawyers.

In addition to the below, we encourage members to join rallies and demonstrations, which we will be organising in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA in the coming days and weeks.


Show solidarity on social media

We are encouraging members to show their support for the strikes using hashtag #StandWithSAGAFTRA and using our social media banners. You can add a ribbon to your Facebook profile picture here (note that this won't work as well for Twitter's circular profile pictures). You can also download a header image for your profile or a graphic to post anywhere (to download, right-click the link and choose "Save link as").

Check out the SAG-AFTRA social media toolkit here