Response to Debbie Davidson: Letter posted in the North Glen News (week of the 19th February), Page 8 entitled: ‘Barnyard Responds to Smear Campaign’
As a highly experienced musician (Bmus), having played 1600 shows for The Barnyard Theatre, I would like to respond to the letter, Barnyard Responds to Smear Campaign. The letter refers to me as reckless – I see my actions as deliberate, educated and informed.
The Barnyard Theatre Productions’ (B.T.P) practices are unethical and in contravention of Labour Law. I worked for B.T.P. permanently for four years, six nights a week, over 70 hours a month. According to the Labour Relations Act, I was a permanent employee. B.T.P. answer in the affirmative to all seven questions posed by the L.R.A to determine permanent employee status. They fail the Dominant Impression Test when it comes to deciding whether musicians and singers are permanent employees.
B.T.P. do not provide their artists with contracts; provide no contract following a verbal booking; do not define employee status; do not pay a rehearsal fee; have no C.O.D insurance; have no safety regulations; they rehearse the cast while the set goes up; provide unhygienic accommodation; have no forum for grievances; and engage in threats and unfair dismissals based on the vulnerability of artists without contracts. I personally know artists who have been dropped a week before a three month run at Gateway Barnyard, due to Debbie Davidson not insisting upon contracts for her artists. B.T.P does not define minimum wage and do not increase salaries according to yearly inflation. None of the franchises, including Gateway, are demanding fair labour practices. They comply with B.T.P’s protocol, instead of putting pressure on them to change it.
This issue relates to the rights of artists in South Africa and the need for a musicians’ union. This is a collective movement: An internet group that supports the view that B.T.P. exploits musicians, has 475 members – many of these members are ex-Barnyard performers.
I have entered into legal action Barnyard Theatre. My CCMA papers were sent Friday, 12 February 2010. B.T.P. replied three days later, wanting to discuss a settlement. One of my conditions will be that my image is no longer associated with them. This Friday I have been granted an audience with ******* ***** *******I will be meeting with them to explain why I think The Barnyard should lose its ******* ***** ******* endorsement.