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When Equity won for me!

Equity is always there for our members, with support, advice and representation when you need us. Tayo Aluko explains how Equity helped him.

Equity member Tayo Aluko

Equity is always there for our members, with support, advice and representation when you need us. We can help you take action with collective issues or support you as an individual. In the following article Equity member Tayo Aluko explains his big trade union moment, when he turned to Equity in a time of need and secured a resounding victory after an engager cancelled Tayo’s performance and withheld payment: 

Last year an email landed in my inbox from a stranger. The branch chair of Edge Hill University’s (EHU) UCU (the lecturers’ union) noted that I was due to give a talk to law students the following Tuesday. They asked if, as there was possible strike action scheduled then, I’d agree not to cross the picket line. 

As an Equity member, I agreed immediately, and sent an email to the University informing them of the situation. Thirty minutes later, I received a reply stating that they had cancelled both the talk and the subsequent performance of my one-man play, Just An Ordinary Lawyer. I replied that their action was a little hasty, and that they’d missed both a publicity and a “teachable moment” opportunity.

The following day, I heard that the UCU leadership had called off the strike, so I contacted EHU to see if I should come in after all. I was told that as people had been informed of the cancellation, the best I could hope for was a rescheduling at some future date, and that they were within their rights to withhold the payment I had been expecting.
I had paid my dues to Equity for years without incident and had acted as any good trade unionist would have done, so I decided that this was the moment to seek the union’s help.

Enter Paul Liversey, North West Organiser, who politely wrote to EHU. They stood their ground, so we decided to sue in the Small Claims Court. 

The time for the University’s response came and went, and judgement was made in my favour. It was only after this that Paul received a letter from EHU’s solicitors stating that they were requesting that the judgement be set aside on the basis that administrative errors led to their defence not being properly lodged.

Very soon after this, and without further explanation, we heard that EHU had decided to settle the matter and pay me.

I was able to announce at a subsequent UCU strike rally that I had received payment for not doing much work and as such would be making a donation to the Edge Hill UCU strike fund.

I am pleased and proud that my big trade union moment demonstrated what solidarity looks like, and how even on one’s lonesome, there is power in a union. Thanks, Equity!

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