Equity is preparing to drive a wedge into what it believes are
cracks appearing in the ad industry’s united opposition to the boycott
of commercials by the actors’ union.
It will bypass industry negotiators with an offer to lift the boycott
for any agencies and advertisers willing to work under an updated
version of the 1991 agreement between the two sides.
Ian McGarry, the general secretary of Equity, admitted this week that
the move was an attempt to exploit what it believes are serious
reservations about the dispute by some agency creative directors and
’The ad industry has backed itself into a corner by ruling out sensible
negotiations,’ he said. ’We are now seeking to divide it.’
But Graham Hinton, the president of the Institute of Practitioners in
Advertising, claimed the move was an act of desperation. ’Equity is
tacitly admitting that its previous instructions have been ineffective,’
he said. ’This isn’t a crisis for us and we continue to make
high-quality commercials with talented actors. We also know of numbers
of celebrities who say they will defy the boycott.’
The union’s offer is being made in a letter being sent this week to IPA
member agencies and major television advertisers.
In it, Equity declares its willingness to allow its members to work to
an amended 1991 agreement - revised to take account of changes in the
RPI - as long as its terms are offered to all members working on a
commercial whether they be voiceovers or visual artists.
The boycott of UK commercials production was imposed four months ago as
part of a dispute over voiceover fees, which the IPA and the
Incorporated Society of British Advertisers argue are out of
Equity claims employers’ proposals would cut voice-overs’ earnings by
two-thirds. The IPA and ISBA accuse the union of walking out of talks
last year and insist that voiceovers are negotiable.
Equity leaders say their decision to turn the heat up comes in response
to a meeting between ACAS officials and employers’ representatives which
produced no change in the industry’s hardline stance.
’The employers only agreed to see ACAS because they’d been criticised
for not doing so,’ McGarry said. ’We concluded at that time that there
was no realistic prospect of a settlement with them.’