Working Conditions

Performers form a highly skilled, flexible and mobile workforce. They often put up with demanding working conditions, including intensive rehearsal schedules, long and atypical working hours, frequent travel, unconventional venues, physically challenging moves, multilanguage environments and audiences, hampering props and costumes, etc.

Despite long and strenuous training, many performers face early professional retirement due to the physically demanding nature of their work and often struggle to avail themselves of further training opportunities to help them envisage new professional opportunities. This is the case for dancers, for instance, whose career often ends when they are in their early 30’s. Life-long learning is a necessity for performers, who constantly need to adapt to new technologies, meet complex and changing skills requirements and deliver artistically flawless performances in all conditions. All too often they are expected to naturally adjust their skills to meet these new challenges whilst the opportunities at their disposal for ongoing training are often inadequate.

Whereas some performers have permanent employment opportunities, most of them work on short assignments, for multiple and successive engagers/employers as well as on a production basis. Despite the fact that a subordinate relationship can clearly be established for an overwhelming majority of them, short-term contracts are often characterised as self-employment by engagers and are seldom challenged by performers who effectively find themselves working as service providers. This is often a real gain for the employer, saving the production employment costs, but it hardly is a fair deal for the performer. Whilst self-employment may bring some tax benefits, it frequently snatches substantial labour protection from performers and dispossesses them of fundamental social rights. In addition, an overzealous interpretation of competition law may erode core trade union rights and seriously inhibit collective bargaining.

Precarious work is rising among performers, challenging their ability to make a living and forcing many to embrace other professional options, undermining freedom of expression, cultural diversity and the delivery of quality professional content. Trade unions play a fundamental role in securing them decent terms and conditions of employment and FIA is determined to support their endeavours by sharing experience, providing technical expertise and conveying the solidarity of its worldwide membership to support its members in need.