South African actors are coerced into contracts that strip us of fundamental constitutional rights, and it is time for our democratically elected legislators to sit up and take note.
When SAGA was established more than thirteen years ago, it was with the intention of registering as a labour union. It soon became clear that we were precluded from doing so in terms of the current labour laws, as we represent predominantly freelance actors, or self-employed ‘independent contractors’. An opportunity to forge a relationship with an established labour partner presented itself and we entered an agreement with the United Associations of South Africa (UASA). Through UASA’s membership of the trade union federation, FEDUSA, SAGA was able to have our voice heard at NEDLAC – the statutory consultative forum that includes organised labour, organised business and government.
Following sustained representations from SAGA, our Legal Chair’s efforts have, at last, elicited a clear directive from SARS regarding the source-code to be reflected on actors’ IRP5 certificates. This effectively puts cash back into performers’ pockets each year! To understand the significance of this document, let’s return to first principles: As freelancers, actors are taxed …
The Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill are drafted so that actors will never again be forced to sign away all their rights in exchange for a meagre daily performance fee. Never again will actors be mocked and told to ‘either take it or leave it’. The Bills stand for industry transformation and they have already been adopted by the National Assembly!
The South African Guild of Actors hosted a series of conferences in Johannesburg and Cape Town aimed at strengthening actors’ rights to decent working conditions and fair compensation. SAGA is of course fortunate to have the unreserved support of influential players around the world, as we strive towards establishing international best practices within our own industry.