The live events industry has been completely decimated by Covid19. That’s fairly flipping obvious, you only have to pick up a screen or a newspaper to read story after story of how people have been affected. But what people don’t see in the press is how people who are absolutely desperate, are being exploited.
Only this morning a good friend of mine sent me a message about how he had thankfully been offered some work. But and this is a big BUT, the work was at a much reduced day rate and he was expected to do all the travel days for free.
Travel days are a bone of contention, they should be paid at full rate, when I travel for you, I cant work for someone else.
Now this friend had previously been freelance and toured with me quite often, as he was good at his job, but then Covid hit and he now found himself part of the 3million excluded, unable to get universal credit or apply for the self employed grants. When my friend questioned their reduced rates, they told him “Well, you haven’t worked for ages.” The inference here being that he was desperate and would accept anything.
This is not the first time I’ve heard about this happening, over the summer there was an instance where there were some outdoor drive in style show planned, and one of the suppliers, a company I shall not name, offered the chance to work on those events, but only if you accepted a substantially reduced day rate. I also happen to be friends with one of the bands that was going to be playing one of these gigs. When I mentioned this to them, they were absolutely flabbergasted, they told me that they had not heard anything different to the norm. They were so annoyed by the issue.
So whats happening here, are the suppliers playing fair? Are they quoting jobs so cheaply that they have to rip off the crew to make a profit? Or is it that they are just plain exploiting us, the core of their business model? Without the freelance crew to staff their jobs, they won’t be able to do those jobs. It doesn’t make sense.
But not all companies are the same, I recently had a long conversation with another large company. They said that they had decided to help their freelancers by continuing to pay them their day rate throughout the covid19 pandemic. They realise the value of their crew and wanted to make sure that they were looked after. Well done to this company!
So how does this affect touring? Not only are we suffering the horrendous affects of the pandemic closing down our venues and the travel restrictions caused by lockdown, when it is under control and we can attempt some normality again, we are then faced with the work permit issue and not being able to tour through the EU27. A true double whammy! On top of this we are now seeing unscrupulous companies taking advantage and attempting to drive down our pay due to the fact that as we haven’t worked for almost a year. Furthermore, due to UK freelancers inability to now tour the EU27, there will inevitably be a glut of freelancers vying for work in the UK and those companies will simply drive down the rates because people are desperate.
A truly terrible situation.
Any suggestions Mr Dowden?
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