Equity UK have today released a joint statement with SAG-AFTRA following the announcement of upcoming US industrial action, vowing to support the action and its members by "all lawful means" as well as SAG-AFTRA's refusal to issue new Global Rule One addenda.
"Equity UK stands in unwavering solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and its members in their effort to achieve a fair and equitable contract, and for the good of performers working around the world. Equity UK will support SAG-AFTRA and its members by all lawful means. Because of existing anti-trade union laws in the UK, SAG-AFTRA members currently working under an Equity UK collective bargaining agreement should continue to report to work. Equity UK will support SAG-AFTRA’s refusal to issue new Global Rule One addenda that undermine the strike during the pendency of the strike. Standing together, we will work to achieve the wages and working conditions that all performers deserve."
- Equity UK & SAG-AFTRA joint statement, 13 July 2023
The British trade union has also issued advice for its 47,000 plus members on the strike action in an easy-to-read way, based on the most common ways in which they are engaged. The advice can be read here.
Equity General Secretary, Paul W Fleming, issued an additional statement of solidarity which said:
"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 [on Equity's website]. 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."