'Great Christmas present' for workers in film and television industry

Actor Vatiswa Ndara has expressed happiness after the department of labour published a notice granting workers in the film and television industry more rights.
Actor Vatiswa Ndara has expressed happiness after the department of labour published a notice granting workers in the film and television industry more rights.
Image: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu

Prominent actor Vatiswa Ndara has described a new notice that will see workers in the film and television industry for the first time in the country's history getting paid leave as a "great Christmas present".

Labour minister Thulas Nxesi 12 days ago published the notice titled "Intention to Deem Persons in the Film and Television Industry as Employees for Purposes of Some Parts of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Act".

The notice, which gives members of the public 60 days to make submissions, also aims to see crew members and actors start enjoying rights currently the norm for other workers such as sick leave, maternity leave, severance pay, proof of incapacity and compensation claims for occupational accidents or diseases.

"This is a real wow moment - looks like a great Christmas present for the industry," said Ndara.

"When we speak of breakthroughs we are talking of such actions as this one taken by minister Nxesi.

"It is definitely a sign of hope for those in the sector and I do think it is finally clear to government that something is amiss with the way things are done in the industry," she said in a WhatsApp text to Sowetan.

Ndara in October hogged headlines when she penned a six-page open letter to sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, complaining that the government was doing nothing to protect workers' rights.

In the correspondence, she announced she was not returning for season 3 of the hit DStv show iGazi.

Ndara also revealed that production firm Ferguson Films had offered her R110,000 before tax for acting in iGazi 3 for the duration of the five-weeks shoot, which she believed was inadequate.

She recently told SowetanLIVE: "I'm quite happy that this [the department of labour notice] also responds to some of the aspects that were raised in the letter I wrote to minister Mthethwa in October.

"This is not only a big step but a rather significant one," she said.

Playwright, director and United Voices For Change Foundation spokesperson Palesa Mazamisa said the notice was a first to eliminating the "slavery conditions" crew members and actors work under.

"Our industry is not straightforward like others as there many instances in which people work between 12 to 16 hours a day and they cannot claim overtime," said Mazamisa.

She added that the issue of personal income tax for actors had to be addressed.

"We are taxed higher than normal workers because we were not considered as workers. We are being taxed as corporates while we are already not being paid decent salaries.

"It is a good thing that this transformation is happening because actors and crew members were being treated as workers without any legal standing," said Mazamisa.

Attempts to get comment from Generations: The Legacy executive producer Mfundi Mvundla - to get understanding on the cost implications of the new notice - were unsuccessful.

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