Equity responds to Thoroughly Modern Millie tour collapse

In the wake of the Thoroughly Modern Millie tour cancellation, many members want to know how Equity can help those affected and pro-actively protect members working in touring theatre.

Paul Fleming, Equity's Industrial Organiser for Theatre who deals with most tour collapses, has provided answers to some of these questions:

"Importantly, in seven years of my supporting members in touring theatre, no tour on an Equity contract has collapsed. Our system of collective agreements with management associations gives a quality assurance that members are entitled to notice, and that producers are vetted to ensure they meet their obligations. It’s good to see a growing number of tours using union agreements and standing with the industry to tackle poor practice.

Recent collapsed tours have been non-union productions, but members still have legal rights. These can come through contract, the liquidation process, and sometimes how producers legally set up a production company. Equity supports members at every stage of the liquidation process, up to and including court where at all possible. This is true for all members: cast, stage management and the creative team.

Unfortunately, the law makes it easy for employers in any sector to set up and dissolve limited companies allowing rogue producers to avoid their moral responsibilities to pay. We’re determined to ensure that producers are held accountable, and even if money cannot be delivered because of the law, we still doggedly pursue those who have left our members high and dry.

Equity would like to see a change in the law to make producers who close companies more accountable, but in any event, getting union staff, activists and members to demand that producers offer union agreements in full (not just the rates of pay) is the most effective way of protecting members in such distressing and unjust circumstances.”

For more information, contact Paul by emailing pfleming@equity.org.uk