The Socialist

The Socialist 7 March 2018

UCU strike: bosses on the run

The Socialist issue 985

May's EU speech kicks the can down the road


NHS: public health - not private profit

Snow chaos showed the bosses' coldness - but also workers' grit

Toys R Us, Maplin: worsening retail crisis claims more jobs

Them & Us


Capitalism oppresses women - fight for socialism!

Women's oppression: the struggle goes on

The Socialist inbox: International Women's Day


UCU strike: bosses on the run

National lecturers' pension strike continues

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on in Merseyside DOO dispute

PCS: Re-elect the left and fight for decent pay

Hull workers united against bosses

FCC Environment strike solid


Syria: No ceasefire for 'hell on earth' eastern Goutha

Japan - toxic legacy of the Fukushima disaster


Salford nurseries consultation delayed

Donate to the Socialist Party building fund

Hands Off HRI campaign group meets Corbyn and Ashworth

TUSC plans to stand on Waltham Forest anti-monster block platform

Derbyshire says: No fracking way!

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people


Fighting sexual harassment in entertainment

The Socialist inbox

 
 
 
 
 

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After Weinstein: fighting sexual harassment in entertainment

Culture unions protesting against arts cuts, photo Helen Pattison

Culture unions protesting against arts cuts, photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

James Ivens, Equity arts policy and campaign working party member (personal capacity)

Following the exposure of appalling, systemic sexual harassment and assault in show business, entertainers' union Equity has launched a campaign.

The speed of response and many of the proposals in Equity's 'Agenda for Change' report are very welcome. But it says little on the fundamental issues: collective action, and the structural power imbalance arts workers face.

A few years ago I was a deputy - Equity's name for workplace reps - on a performance at a well-known outer London theatre. Several members complained about inappropriate behaviour including groping by the head of the venue.

I suggested to my members that I have a word with him, mentioning no names, to get him to stop.

But at the time he was dangling over us the possibility of finding funding to tour the show. This would have meant extending the precarious employment of the whole company by weeks or maybe more.

Fears

Understandably, despite my arguing for it, my members asked me to take no action, fearing he might withdraw the offer. It never materialised, of course.

This same venue head, by the way, had tried to have me sacked after I asked cast and crew not to use the tube in solidarity with ongoing strikes. The show director, a fellow Equity member, refused to sack me. But both episodes show the disproportionate power arts managers can wield.

Equity's report asks casting directors, agents, workplaces, drama schools and so on to formulate and publicise anti-harassment policies. This has been standard practice in other industries for some time. It is long overdue in entertainment.

The union also makes its own commitments, all good. These include updating union contracts, challenging the scope of 'non-disclosure agreements', special training for deputies, and an "awareness" campaign.

Using the current post-Weinstein and Spacey embarrassment at the top of the industry to push for more robust anti-harassment policy is important. And Equity's report does recognise that "it should not be up to brave individuals to make a difference."

However - aside from encouraging members not to be "bystanders" to harassment but to "call it out," and appealing to the consciences of industry chiefs - there is no strategy for enforcement.

Trade unionists should challenge harassment and bullying. And their union should back them in doing so - as the report also promises. But it is not enough, as it implies, to limit this to legal action.

Court cases can be distressing and difficult to prove. And the process is long. Artists may well have moved on to multiple different gigs before it concludes.

For arts workers to have confidence in fighting these very serious issues requires more than vague promises of "support."

For example, last year in south London, Woolwich Ferry workers walked out against sexual harassment and bullying. This collective response won concrete action against the offending manager.

And as well as lobbying Westminster for stronger anti-harassment laws, the union should campaign for a funding and ownership structure that takes the power off the bosses.

A massive expansion in arts funding, and publicly owned, democratically controlled arts facilities, could help free entertainers from dependency on the impresarios.

Equity's new 'arts policy and campaign working party' should include principles like this in its proposals to the union's governing council.


In this issue


What we think

May's EU speech kicks the can down the road


Socialist Party news and analysis

NHS: public health - not private profit

Snow chaos showed the bosses' coldness - but also workers' grit

Toys R Us, Maplin: worsening retail crisis claims more jobs

Them & Us


International Women's Day 2018

Capitalism oppresses women - fight for socialism!

Women's oppression: the struggle goes on

The Socialist inbox: International Women's Day


Socialist Party workplace news

UCU strike: bosses on the run

National lecturers' pension strike continues

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on in Merseyside DOO dispute

PCS: Re-elect the left and fight for decent pay

Hull workers united against bosses

FCC Environment strike solid


International socialist news and analysis

Syria: No ceasefire for 'hell on earth' eastern Goutha

Japan - toxic legacy of the Fukushima disaster


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Salford nurseries consultation delayed

Donate to the Socialist Party building fund

Hands Off HRI campaign group meets Corbyn and Ashworth

TUSC plans to stand on Waltham Forest anti-monster block platform

Derbyshire says: No fracking way!

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Fighting sexual harassment in entertainment

The Socialist inbox


 

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