Irish Equity AGM 2022

Irish Equity backs call for collective bargaining legislation at SIPTU conference

Irish Equity has expressed its support for motions passed at the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference in Sligo which call for legislation to secure collective bargaining rights for workers in Ireland in line with those available in the rest of the EU.

Irish Equity President, Gerry O’Brien, said: “Ireland remains an outlier among western European countries when it comes to collective bargaining coverage. Nowhere is the impact of this more evident than in the heavily state subsidised audio visual industry in Ireland. This has undermined attempts to successfully engage with employers in this sector due to the dominant position that producers and broadcasters find themselves in relation to performers in the Republic. 

“This has resulted in many high budget co-productions shot in Ireland availing of taxpayer support through various Government and local grants, engaging indigenous performers on inferior terms and conditions to those of visiting performers.

“This has created an unacceptable inequity in how we value our talent compared to visiting performers, whose payment is also deemed part of the eligible spend in Ireland of a production. This means that taxpayers in Ireland are supporting productions where international performers are on superior terms and conditions to their colleagues based in Ireland. A collectively bargained agreement cannot allow for such inequity to exist.

“Performers are protected by the Copyright and Related Act Ireland 2000 which provides them with certain rights, including a right to equitable remuneration for the exploitation of their work. The value of this participation can only be achieved through good faith negotiations. This is what allows performers in film and television productions to receive what are called residual payments for the ongoing use of their recorded work. 

“The European Copyright Directive further protects the right of performers to residual payments and requires that all contracts allow them to participate in the financial success of a production in an appropriate, equitable and proportionate manner.”

He added: “Irish Equity is working with Equity UK (NI) in order to ensure performers, North and South, are valued equally. Both unions, working together, are committed to equality for all performers on the island of Ireland.”

Irish Equity and Equity UK join forces to call for equal treatment of Ireland-based performers

Members of Irish Equity and Equity (UK) have joined forces to call for equal treatment for performers working on international co-productions in Ireland. Currently, international production companies are applying lesser terms and conditions to Ireland-based performers. 

International companies making television series and films deny equal rights to local performers on production sets in Ireland even though many of these entities receive generous subsidies under the Section 481 Film Tax Credit. When working on the same film or TV production, UK performers do so on standard Equity UK union contracts that entitle them to receive payment for royalties, residuals and repeats, while their Irish colleagues are on non-union contracts that do not.

Many production companies in the Republic offer buy-outs to actors who then lose appropriate royalties and protection for their performances while their employers enjoy government tax breaks and licence fee revenues. 

The call from Irish Equity and Equity UK follows an historic first meeting of both unions. At the meeting, members of both unions insisted that film productions in Ireland must ensure equal and fair terms and conditions for all professional performers through collective bargaining and agreement with union representatives.

Union members also agreed to mobilise their colleague actors to stop unfair practices and ensure fair treatment as their audiences would expect. Both unions will now work together to ensure the value of Irish, UK and international talent and the contribution they make to the global film and TV industry are recognised, and that all performers are engaged on decent union contracts. 

Screen Ireland has confirmed that a record-breaking €500 million was spent on the screen industry in Ireland in 2021, surpassing the previous record in 2019 by 40%. Meanwhile, an objective of Northern Ireland Screen is for Northern Ireland to have the strongest screen industry outside of London in the UK and Ireland.

General Secretary at Equity, Paul Fleming, said: “We are very pleased to have, for the first time, brought together Irish Equity and Equity members in the UK and Northern Ireland to discuss a critical issue about film and TV production rights on the island of Ireland. We want to continue to work with Irish Equity and members of both Unions to showcase how important it is that the terms and conditions are equitable for those working in film and TV all over Ireland, to harmonise our expectations of fair treatment and ensure a good deal from producers.”

President of Irish Equity, Gerry O’Brien, said: “Both Unions have been compromised by the dominant position exercised by producers in imposing lesser terms and conditions in their agreements on Irish based performers in the Republic of Ireland. At the point of production, in both television series and films, the minimum terms and conditions for the engagement of performers can favour non-resident performers over local hire. Most crucially, the assignment of performers rights, which are protected in legislation, fall far below the international norm. It is these rights which produce ‘residual payments’ for performers.”

Calling all members of Irish Equity and Equity Northern Ireland!

We invite you to a meeting of Irish Equity and Equity NI to discuss supporting your rights when filming, no matter where you work on the island of Ireland.

At 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 8th March, via zoom, General Secretaries and Presidents of both Unions will welcome you to this critical meeting which is only open to members of either Union. You will need your membership number to register so please encourage your colleagues and friends to join the appropriate Union and then register!

Meet your representatives, understand the issues and protect yourselves in your workplace by attending this meeting of members to discuss together the importance of production companies using fair agreements when engaging performers.

Register now by visiting: The Zoom log in details will be emailed to registered attendees on the morning of 8th March.

Irish Equity and MUI call for increased support for workers and venues

Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland have called for an immediate increase in support from the Government for all workers and entertainment venues impacted by the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions. 

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “The members of Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland fully appreciate that we as a country must act in a manner that protects the public health of all in our communities.

“They also fully appreciate that the further restrictions placed on the entertainment sector will have a significant negative impact on what was a tentative recovery for their industries. As a consequence they are calling upon the Government to act immediately to put in place measures that will assist workers in the sector whose livelihoods are once again under dire threat.”

She added: “The Government must move to ensure full support is available immediately to all those who work in the sector and all performance venues including the smallest facilities.”

Equity and MUI seek further financial aid for performers

Following the introduction of further Covid-19 restrictions, Irish Equity and the Musicians’ Union of Ireland (MUI) have welcomed the return of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the continuing support available through the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS). 

“Additional Covid-19 restrictions have already damaged the live arts and entertainment sector due to the reduced capacity of theatres and performance venues and, as a consequence, artists, performers, technicians, creative and support staff will continue to struggle financially,” SIPTU Organiser, Michelle Quinn said.  

“The sector is reeling from the restrictions imposed as the result of the pandemic over the last two years. Now, additional financial supports are required and there must be easy access for those in need of assistance. We are calling on the Arts Minister, Catherine Martin, to lower the eligibility limits in the Live Performance Support Scheme (seasonal musical, theatre and pantomime) to support productions, including those in smaller, local and regional venues. 

“We acknowledge the previous supports made available to the sector but these have not been adequate or proportionate to the devastation of livelihoods inflicted by successive lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Re-Opening of PUP to workers impacted by latest restrictions

To view the latest information regarding the re-opening of PUP to workers impacted by the latest restrictions please visit:

For queries regarding the PUP please email or queries can also be directed to the Department via Twitter 

Postal address for queries:
PUP Section
PO Box 13267
Co. Wexford

UBI Webinar

ICTU Biennial Conference, Belfast 2021

By Gerry O’Brien

I had the pleasure to second a motion proposed by our colleagues in Equity (UK) at the Irish Congress of Trades Union biennial conference in Belfast last week. The motion was proposed by the Northern Irish executive of Equity which is affiliated to Congress. This motion was adopted unanimously and now brings the two unions, Equity and Irish Equity, closer in their shared aim of protecting the rights of performers working on international co-productions in Ireland. All unions are stronger when they work together for the benefit of our members and it is important that we do not become the weak link that undermines the hard fought for agreements of our colleagues in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. 

My colleague, Alan McKee of the Northern Ireland Executive of Equity, in addressing the motion paid tribute to Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer, who’s life ended so tragically on the film set of a movie on which she was working recently in the US. He explained the tradition in our industry that performers and creatives celebrate the passing of one of our colleagues with applause for a life well lived. Congress gave Halyna Hutchins a resounding farewell.

The motion read as follows:

22. Support for Creative Industries 

The challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for ongoing co-operation between Equity and our ICTU comrades in Irish Equity. While cross border work in the creative industries provides work opportunities for members of both trade unions, there must be a strong, united effort to prevent any deterioration of working conditions and to reinforce the protections provided by union negotiated agreements, especially as an increasing number of foreign production companies seek to operate in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The ICTU commits to working closely with creative industries unions to protect the shared interests of our members across the island of Ireland. 

Seconding the motion, Gerry O’Brien, President Irish Equity said:

As we face into what will most likely be a record year for film production across the island of Ireland, we must strive to ensure that those hard fought for agreements gained by our comrades in Northern Ireland , Scotland , Wales and England are not undermined by the undervaluing of the rights of our members. The global hunger for content for an already insatiable international distribution network has seen an assault on the rights of performers with regard to their participation in the financial success of productions globally. We must ensure that where public funds are made available to international media conglomerates through local film companies that the performance and property rights of all performers are valued equally. As a performer and a union activist, I have witnessed what can happen internationally when local producers demand that we, as performers, subsidise their version of the audiovisual industry by accepting terms and conditions that deny, or through abuse of dominance, minimise the value of our right to residual payments for the ongoing exploitation of our recorded work.

We as performers, by virtue of legislation, have a 50 year stake-holding in the revenue streams created from the success, and excellence, of our work. How that is extracted and made payable to our members requires a very specific form of negotiation that is informed by not just the working time act but also copyright and contract law. 

The pressure to minimise the rights of performers across every aspect of their employment and the assignment of their rights is enormous. The need to control ownership of all intellectual property, including that of the performer, is the current great ‘land grab’ of our industry. A union that represents performers must have an insight into, not just of what happens at the point of production, but also how the distribution system works and how we extract the maximum benefit from the revenue streams created. It is a complex challenge.

But this is not only about our livelihoods. It is also about the importance of strong unions working together to ensure that we remain safe in our work environment. Sadly, the headlines of the last few days demonstrate what can happen in the rush to create content as cheaply as possible. It is unthinkable that the telling of a story should cut short the ultimate story of a human life. 

All unions are stronger when they stand together to protect the rights of their members, so on behalf of the members of Irish Equity and their executive we endorse the motion of our sister union and call on Congress to support our efforts to end the inequity that currently exists within the audiovisual industry on this island. We are proud to second the motion.”

Webinar on Universal Basic Income

Irish Equity Webinar:

Universal Basic Income for the Arts – What does it mean for you?

Monday 1st November 2021 from 7.30pm – 9.30pm

If you wish, please join us for this important information webinar on Universal Basic Income (UBI) for the Arts.

The webinar will endeavour to give attendees a better understanding of what UBI means for them.

Please note registration will close at 3.00 p.m. sharp on Monday, 1st November 2021. The link to the webinar will follow shortly after registration has closed. 

Interested in attending the event?