Actors' long struggle could soon be over after state intervention

Kagiso Modupe has a new movie called Losing Lerato.
Kagiso Modupe has a new movie called Losing Lerato.
Image: Via Instagram

Actors would soon be able to enjoy labour rights that are being enjoyed by other workers in the country.

This after government this week gazetted a notice expressing its intention to have people in the film and television industry enjoy the rights that are enshrined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Act.

The gazetting of the actors' working rights will, for the first time in the history of the industry, result in them being able to take paid annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave, among other things, to put to an end their long-standing suffering.

Announcing the intended benefits on Thursday, labour minister Thulas Nxesi said the actors would also start receiving minimum wage.

"…(I) give a draft notice of the intention of deeming persons in the film and television as employees for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 9 of 2018, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 and these sections of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997… annual leave …pay for annual leave … sick leave … proof of incapacity … application to occupational accidents or diseases … maternity leave … severance pay…" read the notice.

Nxesi said members of the public were given an opportunity of making written representations within 60 days of the publication of the notice.

The notice is gazetted two months after veteran actor Vatiswa Ndara wrote a heart-rending, open letter to sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, highlighting the exploitation the actors have suffered from production houses.

Film producer and actor Kagiso Modupe told TimesLIVE that he fully supported the gazetting of the notice.

He said there were many instances where female actors would hide their pregnancy from their employers as they were scared of being fired.

Modupe said when he was shooting his film Losing Lerato, he was not aware that one of his actors was pregnant.

"I only found out after shooting the film that Samela Tyelbooi was pregnant. She didn't tell me this becaue there is this fear among women actors that they will not get a job if they are pregnant. For many years, women haven't been feeling right about being women [in the acting industry]," said Modupe.

"There are also many kids who die from pneumonia in the industry due to working cold conditions but nobody is talking about that."