L*******F**, Equity Council & Pi***M*****

If you wrote these three “incidents” into a script no one would believe it.
It’s too fanciful, it’s OTT.

Yet it’s all real.

January, 16, 2020 L*******F** appears on #BBCQT where this delightful gentlemen [please read using a very heavy and sarcastic tone] gaslightedUniversity Lecturer Rachel Boyle . The Minority Ethnic Members Committee (MEMC) quite rightly challenges this unacceptable behaviour. Calling on all members of Equity to denounce LF’s behaviour. There is no place in modern society for racism or misogyny. Apparently this call to arms from an elected committee was frowned upon by Equity’s ruling body, The Council. Who then blocked the MEMC from accessing their twitter account. Claiming that the statement issued by the MEMC only came from two of the committee members. Which is factually incorrect.The Equity senior management released a statement in The Stage  January, 20. Which is when the issue ceased being about LF’s disgusting and unacceptable behaviour (he has form it should be said on airing his hurtful and harmful views) on prime time television. But about how The Equity senior management was treating one of its own elected committees. And what message this was sending out to the union’s BAME membership.
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Following on from this news twitter was more than active as people tweeted their support for their the MEMC

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By silencing and censoring what the MEMC could and could not say it was taken by many across the board, that Equity’s senior management (which incidentally is all white) itself has much more work to do when it comes to issues related to race and ethnicity.

Equity then broke their silence on the matter and issued another statement in The Stage on 21, January, 2020. Maxine Payne Vice Chair of The Equity Council said:

it[was] a “mistake to criticise a member of the profession” without consulting the union.
the committee had “inadvertently broken” union rules.

Equity admitted to deleting the MEMC tweets. But has made no apology for this.
Christine Payne went on to praise the work of the various Equity committees saying

[They] identify how the union can improve the working lives of our members who are the victims of prejudice, discrimination and abuse because of their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability.

“It was a mistake to criticise a member of the profession without consultation with the union. What the union does in such a situation is to speak to its members, understand all the complexities of the situation and look for a resolution.

Christine Payne also said

Racism is real. It is not a figment of people’s imagination.  It hurts, it is damaging, it splits communities and it denies people opportunities.
The union relies on all our equality committees to identify how the union can improve the working lives of our members who are the victims of prejudice, discrimination and abuse because of their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability.  Members of our committees are passionate, focussed and know what they are talking about because they live it – every day of their life.

I am very grateful that members of our profession are prepared to put their heads above the parapet for their fellow members and I am proud of their commitment.

The union has rules which are a protection for both the union as an organisation and its members.  These rules are not easy bedtime reading and sometimes they are inadvertently broken. It was a mistake to criticise a member of the profession without consultation with the union. What the union does in such a situation is to speak to its members, understand all the complexities of the situation and look for a resolution.

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The MEMC found many supporters and not just from BAMEs.
The Christine Payne statement for Equity, in my personal view, at best is patronising. It shows a tacit lack of any real substantive understanding of the reality, and continuous issues of racism and discrimination, within its own organisation and the rank and file membership.

Some took to social media to state they would be handing back their Equity Union membership. I for one will not be giving LF, his supporters or like minded people the satisfaction of seeing this Equity member (who happens to be BAME) leave.

If all of this was not enough we are then subjected to  Piers Morgan on daytime TV during ITV’s #GMB, 21, January, shamelessly mocking the Chinese and their language. the ITV GMB Twitter was inundated with complaints and criticism and quite rightly so.

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Apparently there was so much angry tweeting that #ITV #GMB did an Equity and deleted all the tweets (there’s a pattern here don’t you think?) And that was left was this

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As Peter Egan so rightly pointed out these difficult conversations need to be had in public. They have to include the very people that the prejudice, hate, unconscious bias, affect. Without our participation these conversations are meaningless and substantive change will never really be achieved.

As a long term member of Equity I am absolutely livid to say the least.  I remembers the last days of the Union under Derek Bond (this was prior to me becoming a member)  and his opposition to the cultural embargo of South Africa and its then apartheid system. When I finally managed to gain membership of Equity under the old closed shop rules, I very quickly became disillusioned by the internal politics and yes racism within the union, back in the 80s. For a while I was active and actually  served on the Oriental and Afro Asians Committee, which then became the Afro-Asian committee, which in turn is now the MEMC. But I felt I had to withdraw from being an active participant in the union because of industry wide and union racism and discrimination.  I’d have recently become more and more disposed to my union encouraged by the voice and actions coming from it and was seriously considering take a more active part. This latest incident has confirmed, how little progress the union executive has actually made. I say executive as opposed to many of the rank and file members.

Equity’s BAME membership have been trying to have these conversations, it seems to me, since time – well stretching back at least thirty years.

 

louis mahoney

Now is the time for the Equity to take its turn, follow the example of their duly elected committees, stand up and put their collective heads above the parapet.