Our lead news story in December CX shows at least one government events department thinks we should work for nothing. They didn’t just decide to cut their sound and lighting budget by 75%. Someone is prepared to do the work.
My solution is to accredit legitimate operators, using an industry scheme. It would be simple – the industry creates a registered peak industry association which as only one role. All it does is accredit legitimate operators.
What constitutes legitimate?
Start with insurance. You must hold public liability insurance – and even the cowboys have this, since EVERY venue insists on proof of it. Then Workers Compensation insurance. Most cowboys do not have it, they rely on paying their crew as contractors, thinking they can avoid liability.
When a contracted crew member has an accident, they can and should claim against their hirer – the cowboy. Sham contracting or even legitimately framed labour contracts do not avoid liability for workers compensation.
Sadly many event hirers do not demand proof of workers compensation insurance – the ACT Government example in this month’s CX news pages do not.
Next is tax compliance – Cowboys often do not pay GST, and may seek to avoid paying group tax or company tax. Laying quietly you can run a company for several years before the compliance machine slowly and noisily catches up. True cowboys just phoenix the company and start again, sometimes with a senile uncle as a sham director. He doesn’t know any better.
Then we have the Live Performance Award, which pays amongst the lowest hourly casual rates of any award, for a highly skilled occupation. But despite the pitiful rates of pay in the award, most cowboys actually pay less.
Now to the equipment. Cowboys often buy knock off equipment, and rely on the faked compliance certification that came in the box. They don’t know, or care about, engineering standards. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) is of little concern to the cowboy.
A legitimate operator carries compliance costs, and pays tax. They don’t put audiences or performers at risk, whereas a cowboy is an accident waiting to happen.
To get accredited, a production company needs to carry the correct insurance, be compliant, look after crew, and operate in a safe manner.
Let’s all get together on this one, at CX Roadshow in February?