U.K. Union Equity Strikes Coronavirus Pay Deals For Soap Actors, Theater Workers

Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (10492349el)Ep 9981Wednesday 15th January 2020 - 2nd EpBernie Winter, as played by Jane Hazlegrove, confides in Sean Tully, as played by Antony Cotton, how she's been posing as a 14 year old boy online and has arranged to meet up with Kel in order to get justice for Paul. Sean's horrified and urges her to go to the police.'Coronation Street' TV Show UK - 2019

U.K. actors union Equity has agreed a financial support deal with producers and broadcasters for on-screen artists working in continuing dramas such as “EastEnders” and “Coronation Street” following a complete shutdown of production due to coronavirus.

The deal also includes popular soaps such as “Holby,” “Casualty,” “Doctors,” “River City,” “Pobol y Cwm,” “Emmerdale” and “Hollyoaks.”

Equity said it has agreed monthly payments for cast that either meet or come very close to government schemes for employed and self-employed workers, which mean they are likely to receive around 80% of their regular monthly pay or profits up to £2,500 ($3,100) a month.

The union explained that it had “pushed very hard for more, but felt these were the best that could be achieved in light of the difficult economic climate.”

The union describes intense, complex negotiations to secure a deal. “This unprecedented situation is one to which the terms of the collective agreements with the broadcasters and Pact, the employers’ negotiating group, were not designed to address.”

Equity noted that artists’ pay across various productions is wide-ranging and many are not paid significant sums. The union also said many artists on the casts of continuing dramas will not meet the eligibility requirements for the government self-employed scheme, “so it is crucial that they receive some financial support during this crisis.”

John Barclay, head of recorded media at Equity, said: “By securing financial protection for artists now, we go some way towards safeguarding a vibrant future for the industry when this crisis is behind us and production can resume.”

Equity’s continuing drama deal comes two days after it revealed an agreement for its members working in theater.

Equity agreed with West End organization SOLT a holding pay deal for four weeks from March 16 to April 13 worth two and a half weeks of the applicable minimum salary based on the size of the theater, payable to each performer and stage management, spread over the four-week period.

For wider U.K. commercial theater, the sum was equivalent to two weeks of the minimum rehearsal salary over the same period.

Equity has begun further discussions with SOLT and UK Theatre for arrangements that will apply after April 13.

For the subsidized theater sector, for the period up to May 31, performers and stage management whose contracts had or would have started during this period will be entitled to receive a minimum payment equivalent to three weeks at 80% of the applicable minimum salary.