OPINION: Industry shouldn’t gloat despite Equity’s retreat

After some 13 months of anguish, allegation, counter-charge, bluster and boycott, the dispute between the advertising industry and Equity is right back where it started.

After some 13 months of anguish, allegation, counter-charge,

bluster and boycott, the dispute between the advertising industry and

Equity is right back where it started.



It took no great visionary power to predict this would happen. With both

sides locked in a stalemate it has been obvious for some time that an

unofficial working arrangement would emerge, tacitly allowing agencies,

advertisers and the actors’ union to do business with each other.



Equity has now allowed pragmatism to prevail by permitting its members

to accept work under the terms of an expired 1991 agreement. The effect

is to scale down the dispute considerably.



Understandably, Equity has attempted to put the best possible PR gloss

on its decision, claiming it as an initiative rather than a defeat. In

truth, there is probably little else the union could have done.



The ad industry has always known it needed only to sit tight to win the

day. The longer the dispute dragged on, the greater the hardship for

many of Equity’s grassroots members. And when Enn Reitel, Britain’s most

famous voiceover artist, quit the union branding it ’a closed shop run

on fear’, it was clear the writing was on the wall.



The sad fact is that a lot of people have lost a lot of money for no

discernable gain in a confrontation allowed to spin out of control. The

industry may believe it has ’won’ as it watches the union retreat with

as much dignity as it can. But there should be no triumphalism.

Festering resentment of one side by another won’t repair the

relationship.



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