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Virgin Trains in clash with actors’ union

A COMPETITION to find the next voice for Virgin Trains’ talking toilets has left the actors’ union Equity flushed with anger, because professional voice-over artists will not be used.

Virgin Trains says it is seeking ‘real people’ for the job rather than actors, although it has employed Eastenders actor Dean Gaffney to help with auditions.

But Equity has accused Virgin Trains of trying to get free services from members of the public, claiming that the competition is a ‘slap in the face’ for the professionals.

Equity’s ‘Low Pay No Pay’ industrial organiser Charlotte Bence said: ‘Offering unpaid voice-over work as a competition is completely unacceptable.

‘Equity members are all-too-familiar with so called ‘opportunities’ like this being used as a way to deny them work paid at an appropriate rate, but for a multimillion-pound, taxpayer-subsidised company such as Virgin Trains to offer up voice work as an unpaid competition is appalling and indefensible.

’Voice-over artists are skilled professionals, much like Virgin Train’s on-board crew or drivers, whose work they would never dream of opening up to this kind of bogus competition. Equity believes Virgin should apologise, withdraw this competition and engage with Equity over appropriate, industry-standard rates for the job.’

A spokesman for VT said: ‘We have enormous respect for the acting community and have worked with actors and voice-over artists on numerous occasions over the years and will continue to do so.

‘On this particular occasion, however, we are not looking to hire a professional actor, we are running a fun competition for customers to get involved with if they’d like to – people who would never normally have an opportunity such as this.

‘There is no obligation to take part, nor to have any prior experience or training, nor is there any cost involved in the audition process. It should be noted, however, that we did hire an actor to participate in this campaign – Dean Gaffney has been paid a fair rate for his work and winners of the competition will receive some additional treats and surprises.’

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