Study calls for entertainment trade unions to better support workers of colour


Entertainment trade unions need to provide better support for their Black, Asian and minority ethnic members to help tackle discrimination in the industry, new research has found.

Studies from The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity at Birmingham City University have highlighted how unions can better serve people of colour in their memberships, who experience barriers of race and marginalisation in the sector.


Birmingham City University

Published today (Wednesday 3 November), the study examines the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) members of the five entertainment sector trade unions: BECTU Sector of Prospect, Equity, the Musicians’ Union, the National Union of Journalists and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

The research evidences gaps in the ability of entertainment trade unions to effectively serve the interests of their Black Asian and minority ethnic members, identifying structural reasons why this may be whilst offering a series recommendations to improve the situation.

“The report found that the majority of interviewees faced significant obstacles in their trade union activity, especially with regard to their anti-racism work”, said Marcus Ryder, Head of External Consultancies at The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.

The study, led by film editor Riaz Meer, Dr Jack Newsinger and Dr Siobhan Stevenson,  saw interviewees share their experiences of union leadership failures, placing the responsibility of marginalisation with poorly integrated anti-racism agendas.

“I don’t think that any of the union leaderships fully understand what racism is,” said one interviewee. 

“There’s still the thing that the concerns of black members is something seen as aside from and apart from, rather than something that they should be actively working for right across the union,” said another.

Recommendations from the research include ensuring clearer induction programmes, providing better support for those feeling discriminated against and a review of constitutive rules in order to strengthen democratic representation.

Entertainment trade union leaders will discuss the research in a free online event today (3 November) – Trade Unions and the Fight For Racial Equality In UK Media - The good, the bad and the ugly’.

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