Presidential Opinions: Vote for the industry you want

At the time of writing this column the nominations for those wishing to stand for one of Equity’s committees are about to close. It’s too late now for me to use this chance to speak directly to the whole membership of the union (or at least those who read our multi-award winning magazine!) to encourage, cajole, beg you to stand, but it’s not too late for me to encourage, cajole and beg you to VOTE!!

The members who win places on each of our committees will be making incredibly important decisions about your livelihood - how you put bread on your table – so wouldn’t you like to make sure they are people you approve of?

I know I’ve banged on about this before and no doubt will again, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record here’s something Michelle Obama said at a recent event to publicise her autobiography – “It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and, if we are not happy with the state of things, then in democracies we have votes. We have to pay attention and we have to be engaged and we can’t take our rights and liberties for granted.”

Many of the battles Equity’s activists and staff are engaged in are ongoing and we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball.

Our membership in all its glorious diversity is a microcosm of the wider world outside of our union, and when the Sultan of Brunei introduces new laws mandating the stoning to death of gay people, or Donald Trump announces that transgender people are now banned from serving in the armed forces of the US, or a UKIP candidate refuses to apologise for saying that he “wouldn’t even rape” a female Labour MP and states that “feminism is a cancer”, or, or, or… it impacts on all of us and our rights. The work of our equalities committees in particular does not happen in an Equity bubble only affecting the lives of our members when they are working within our industry, but has implications wherever the communities they serve exist.

In February this year we had an event to celebrate one year on since the launch of our Agenda for Change and Safe Spaces campaign. That very same Labour MP mentioned above, Jess Phillips, was one of our fantastic speakers and she praised Equity for the work we have been doing towards eradicating bullying and harassment from our industry. I don’t have any data as yet, although there are plans for a member-wide survey on this subject, but it seems to me that our campaign and the affirmation that goes along with it (see the Safe Spaces page in the diary) are becoming more and more widespread and are making a very real difference. Of course there is much still to do and we must remain ever vigilant, but for me this is a great example of Equity staff and activists working together to affect real change for the better and it fills me with pride. VOTE!!