The long-running dispute between the ad industry and Equity has
ceased to have an impact on UK commercials production, with the warring
parties unofficially accepting a new status quo that has emerged from
The actors’ union, acknowledging that a settlement of the 13-month
confrontation remains as distant as ever, has told its members they can
accept work under the terms of an expired 1991 agreement.
The move effectively lifts Equity’s ban on its members appearing in UK
commercials and restricts the dispute to its original flashpoint - the
pegging of voiceover fees.
In a note to members, Ian McGarry, Equity’s general secretary, said the
union’s decision was a reaction to employers’ claims that they had no
intention of attacking the 1991 terms and conditions for visual artists
and because many agencies were now offering 1991 terms to non-visual
artists as well. ’We are now taking the employers at their word,’ he
It was the end of the 1991 agreement in April last year that led to the
dispute and to the boycott of all UK commercials production by Equity
members which has been in operation for eight months.
The union’s instruction re-creates the situation as it was immediately
before it took action over voiceover fees.
Equity denied its action was an admission of defeat, claiming that
members’ support remained solid and that it was taking the initiative in
a deadlocked dispute. ’It’s a recognition that the employers will
probably not return to negotiations in the foreseeable future,’ a union
But Bob Wootton, head of media services at the Incorporated Society of
British Advertisers, said: ’It would be difficult to see this as
anything other than a retreat. Equity has had to be pragmatic and
recognise the custom and practice that has evolved.’
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is warning members that
despite the latest move - described by one IPA source as ’relaxing the
position’ - the dispute with Equity remains unresolved.
Wootton added: ’The situation isn’t ideal but it’s close enough to make
us question the need to get into a new agreement of the kind Equity