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Actors are told 'take it or leave it', says former 'Isidingo' star

CapeTalk logo CapeTalk 2019-10-09
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera © Provided by KFM Radio a Division of Primedia Pty Ltd

TV star Jack Devnarain says South African actors work in a 'take-it-or-leave-it' environment, where they are made to feel disposable if they challenge unjust working contracts.

  • This is the situation with all actors now. If you disagree or feel the terms of the contract should be negotiated further, there is no opportunity. - Jack Devnarain, Actor and chairman of the SA Guild of Actors

Devnarain is an actor best known for his starring role as Rajesh Kumar in the SABC3 soap opera Isidingo.

He's also the national chair of the South African Guild of Actors, which has been pushing for changes in the film and TV industry.

Veteran actress Vatiswa Ndara this week penned an open letter to the Minister of Arts and Culture which sparked a national conversation on the treatment of South African actors

Many local actors have broken their silence on the injustices they face in the industry and how their rights are not protected.

Devnarain says unfair practices are entrenched in the film and TV.

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He explains that producers are not receptive to actors who want to dispute unfair contractual terms, including pay and the length of on-call periods.

  • Working under the regime as an independent contractor means that an actor has to work from job to job. - Jack Devnarain, Actor and chairman of the SA Guild of Actors
  • In this country, we have a take-it-or-leave-it and if you don't like it, walk away. - Jack Devnarain, Actor and chairman of the SA Guild of Actors

Devnarain says that legislation, namely the Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers' Protection Amendment Bill, should soon address some of these matters.

  • We are still all at sea. We have been motivating for changes to be made. - Jack Devnarain, Actor and chairman of the SA Guild of Actors

Meanwhile, labour lawyer Michael Bagraim says all independent contractors in the media and creative industry are already protected by rights covered in the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

He says most employers try their best to dodge compliance with labour laws by repeatedly renewing short-term contracts, when in fact individual's should be treated as permanent employees.

According to Bagraim, actors and other creatives are legally entitled to various types of leave, regardless of the length of their employment contract.

  • There are rights, but the problem is a lot of people can't afford to implement their rights. - Michael Bagraim, labour lawyer at Bagraim Attorneys
  • Even if you are a short-term contractor, you accrue leave... These things need to be challenged. - Michael Bagraim, labour lawyer at Bagraim Attorneys

Listen to him share his personal experiences on Today with Kieno Kammies here

Also read:

Actress Vatiswa Ndara: I'm tired of exploitation

Fergusons deny Vatiswa Ndara's exploitation claims

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