New union for actors

Jun 24 2022 | By More

Equity breakaway set to Rise Together

Cairn, a new professional association for performance workers and allied trades in Scotland with the slogan “rise together”, has been launched today, Friday 24 June 2022, in Glasgow.

Cairn is lead by a group of ex-Equity members who resigned from the actors union last year during a bitter row over staff restructuring that saw the Scottish organiser being made redundant against the wishes of the union’s Scottish Council.

Founding members of Cairn at its launching Glasgow. Pic: Eoin Carey

Membership of Cairn is open to anyone working in the performing arts or related trades, including actors, dancers, directors, designers, theatre producers and managers, models, voice artists and stage managers.

Full membership will cost £60 a year, with graduate membership at £30 and further schemes for students and associate members who do not fulfil the joining criteria.

Cairn’s stated aims are to: “improve the working conditions of performance workers and allied trades practising in Scotland and to raise awareness of the contribution of artists to the public life and economy of Scotland.”

According to Scottish government statistics, the country’s creative industries contribute more than £5 billion to the Scottish economy every year. While an independent report published yesterday, Thursday 23 June 2022, Found that Scotland’s screen sector contributed £567.6 million to the economy in 2019, providing 10,280 full time equivalent jobs.

Cairn’s further aims are:
“To represent its members in employment and contractual matters;
“to promote, protect and further the artistic, economic, social and legal interests of its members in their professional capacity;
“to achieve the best possible terms and conditions of work in all aspects in which our members are engaged;
“to secure these aims by organisation and all other effective methods of unity of action.”

Founding member Andy Clark launching Cairn. Pic: Eoin Carey

Cairn is currently a not-for-profit members’ organisation but intends to register for full trade union recognition and certification by the UK Government should its membership agree. It will be member led, meaning that when it employs administrative staff, only members will formulate policy.

Producer and Director, April Chamberlain, said: “At a time when more than ever we need our voices heard, it’s great to welcome Cairn, a new, inclusive grassroots organisation committed to supporting and representing people in our industry.”

The breakaway from Equity followed a staff restructuring process within the union, led by its General Secretary Paul Fleming, which saw redundancies among the backroom staff across the union and included the loss of long-term Scottish Organiser Lorne Boswell, from its Scottish office in late 2020.

The name Cairn was inspired by Scots language expert and TV presenter Alastair Heather. Cairn is symbolic of the cairns which were, originally, unique to Scotland; a collective undertaking built and maintained over years, offering guidance, direction and shelter.

The association says it has a list of 250 supporters across Scotland and it will be looking to actively recruit. Although the founding members resigned their positions in and membership of Equity, they say that new members can belong to both organisations.

Further details of Cairn and how to join it are on its website:

Cairn on Twitter: @CairnUnionScot


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