Bectu: “Do Nothing To Undermine The IATSE Action,”

Bectu has, once again, come out strongly in support of IATSE’s threatened strike action next week, as reported in Deadline earlier today.

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs has urged members to “go further and show solidarity” posting photos with colleagues on social media with the hashtag #IASolidarity or #UnionStrong.

T-Shirts and stickers, and lots of other merch are on sale in the US with the ‘Give us a Rest at Night’ logo.Give it a rest - IATSE

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Vaccinated or a negative CoViD test – new guidance in Wales

From Monday 11th October new rules came into force in Wales requiring people attending large events and nightclubs (or similar premises) to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID test. You can read guidance here and access promotional assets here.

Thanks to Siân Gale for the tip on this one.

There has been a significant relaxing of the rules in Northern Ireland in recent days. Audiences at indoor venues will also no longer have to stay seated during performances, and nightclubs are due to reopen on 31 October, with the end of indoor social distancing rules for hospitality (there’s a good roundup of NI changes here on the BBC website)

As far as the rest of the UK is concerned, the current rules are relatively relaxed, specifically…. Continue reading

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More on freelance pensions

Members who missed the seminar on freelancers and pensions a few weeks ago can view it here. Following this up, and looking at The Great British Retirement Survey annual report,

On the one hand, people are hearing to retire as never before, having had a taste of it during the lockdown. On the other, there’s a real crisis of trust in all kinds of institutions (including the State Pension).

There’s also the comparison here. We are rightly most anxious about people who have less retirement provision, and fewer other savings, and those who are still trying to decide if ISAs or pensions are best for them. Continue reading

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Yet another big streamer eyes European markets

This time, it’s Paramount +.

“In the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria (GSA), for example, Paramount Plus will launch on Sky platforms. Craig explained that according to the deal, Paramount Plus and Comcast/ViacomCBS streaming co-venture SkyShowtime will be mutually exclusive in a number of territories, with customers experiencing one or the other depending on their location.”

High on their list of priorities, though, is to get to grips with the EU’s AVMS directive (a regular theme on this site) – here’s the US perspective on this that I missed at the time. (In fairness it was published before this blog started). Continue reading

Posted in EU & Brexit, Film & TV industry policy, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, SVoD | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BBC Studios Appoints Tom Fussell as CEO

As reported in Variety.

“Fussell will oversee BBC Studio’s “ambitious” plans for global expansion, its focus on employee engagement and wellbeing as well as diversity, inclusion and sustainability.”

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What is happening to self-employment in the UK

The tl;dr answer is that it’s too early to tell.

As mentioned previously here, there’s a lot of job-switching going on, and there is a generally tight labour market in the UK (and globally, though the UK has the added spice of Brexit to contend with).

‘Economic inactivity’ (i.e. people who are neither working or known to be unable to work) is now higher than pre-pandemic levels, and self-employment is known to be 660,000 down. CIPD are saying that known wage growth is masking a sharp rise in temporary workers and also a fall in the number of self-employed.

Derek Cribb, speaking for IPSE saidContinue reading

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French cultural policy

France has always had an interesting, and different approach to cultural policy to the UK’s equivalent. In thinking about this last night, I remembered this 2013 document [pdf] from the Coalition Francaise and I thought I’d bookmark it here.

This [pdf] may also be worth looking at too, from 2016

(This is why the ‘categories’ and ‘tags’ on this site are so useful).

Posted in Copyright & Intellectual Property, Culture policy, Diversity of representation, Film & TV industry policy, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, Tax incentives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

IATSE ramps up the pressure: a deal – or a strike on Monday!

IATSE has ramped up the pressure, publishing a Strike Clock counting down to midnight on Monday morning.

In a message circulating IATSE members, the line is….

“AMPTP has until Monday 18th at 12:01 am to make us a better offer. Leadership advised me to tell members to get your kits tidy this week. Be prepared to work on Monday but also be prepared to picket/walk off”.

IATSE’s demands are hardening, and members have been emboldened by the overwhelming strike vote. It’s going to be an interesting few days….

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Basic income for artists and art-workers – Irish trial

The Irish Times [£] is reporting on a three-year pilot scheme on ‘basic income’ for artists and arts-sector workers.

With an initial budget of €25 million it is targeted on people who were fell badly between the cracks during the CoViD lockdown (Bectu members say Hi!).

There’s very little detail at the moment, (the Irish Times seem to be running a tip as a story) but I’ll keep you posted. Continue reading

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Self employed workers using their own home as a workplace

This is an issue where I’d normally point members to Tax for Freelancers (the Bectu tax guide) but I do find that TaxAid often explains things very well – here’s their account of this issue.

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There’s a lot of job-switching going on

Following on from two posts here this morning about inflation/pay, and the tight labour market, here’s a third on the trinity of issues that are creating a fair wind for union-type demands at the moment.

Sarah O’Connor in the FT is writing[£] about ‘the big quit‘ (a link to a Forbes article there). Forbes are writing the sort of thing that unions normally would only dream of reading in a bosses bible.

Employers need to sharpen up their management practices and listen to workers’ calls for more flexible working, less presenteeism, and plan for a general humanisation of work! Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Employment, Low pay, Pay & inflation, Productivity, Wages and Pay-rates | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Got a pay claim coming up? Want advice on inflation, and stuff like that?

If you have a pay claim coming up and want advice on inflation, and stuff like that…. good luck!

Firstly, the official, current inflation figures have not been as flimsy a guide as they are at the moment for a very long time – so now may not be a time for too much number-crunching. This is because there is so much uncertainty around prices this winter. Currently, RPI is 4.8% in August – up from 3.8% in July – and CPI rose from 2.0% to 3.2% in the same period.

Inflation could be at significantly high levels (5%+!). The current Bank of England view is that CPI will pass 4% or even 4.5% in November/December before falling away slightly with RPI running a point or so higher, though there’s not a consensus on that at the moment, everyone seems very worried and the bets are piling in on interest rate rises [£].

Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Employment, EU & Brexit, Inflation, Pay & inflation, Productivity, Skills & capacity | Tagged | 1 Comment

Directors Guild of America approach to diversity

Janice Turner has forwarded me some interesting stuff from one of our union kin in the US, The Directors Guild of America (DGA).

Their mission statement includes a dual focus:

  1. Cultural diversity is reflected in the stories that Directors tell
  2. Diversity and inclusion ensuring that everyone has a fair chance of working in their industry regardless of their personal background.

Section 15 [pdf] of the DGA’s Basic Agreement with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is well worth a look. Continue reading

Posted in Culture policy, Diversity of representation, Equality, Gender equality, Gender representation, Race equality, Wealth inequality | Tagged | Leave a comment

“The tightest labour market in modern times”

This Twitter thread (below) is really worth a careful read for everyone who wants to understand the current state of the labour market.

Firstly, the fears about mass redundancies at the end of furlough are just not materialising – if anything redundancies are below pre-pandemic levels.

In summary, there’s a strong recovery going on, but it is being hampered by employers not being able to hire the workers that they need because there is a ‘missing million’ from the workforce. Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Employment, Productivity | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How often do Freelancers need to opt out of the pension scheme with a regular employer?

This is another of those posts that we would urge you to act upon only after having read the footnote (below).

We are periodically contacted by members who work multiple short contracts for the same engager (e.g. a national broadcaster) who are frustrated at being required to opt-out of the company’s auto-enrolment scheme when they start a new engagement. For long-term employees, opt-outs apply for three years.

So why can’t engagers apply the same principle to freelancers?

We asked Stewart Mott, our Pensions Officer, to check this and advise on it. He came back saying that, in his view, he would generally expect members to have to opt out each time they are engaged with a particular employer for a new assignment. Continue reading

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Women leaving the theatre sector after the pandemic?

An interesting-if-depressing report here (reported in The Guardian):

“The research, conducted by playwright Jennifer Tuckett, in partnership with organisations such as The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Equity, Stage Directors UK and the December Group, found that more than 98% of the 387 women surveyed experienced challenges in the past 19 months, including a decrease in freelance work (74%), and increases in domestic tasks (38%) childcare (27%) and unemployment (32%).”

… and… Continue reading

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Shift-working and disrupted patterns of rest – a research round-up

Thanks to Siobhan Wray, an Associate Professor in Organisational Behaviour at Lincoln University for a useful roundup of research resources on this, including….

Posted in Film & TV industry policy, Long hours, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Wellbeing, Work-life balance | Tagged | Leave a comment

Why unions matter – the economic argument

Here’s a web page that I return to fairly regularly when thinking about wage growth (or lack thereof). Firstly, there this:

pay growth v productivity graph


And then there’s this:decline in union membership graph

See the link?


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Vaccination mandates

While, in the UK, there’s no formal legal requirement for workers outside the care sector to be vaccinated, in LA, Variety is reporting that punters will need proof of vaccination to enter…

“…restaurants of any kind (fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias), gyms and fitness venues, entertainment venues (movie theaters, shopping centers, concert and performance venues, sports arenas, museums, arcades) and personal care establishments (spas, nail salons, hair salons, tanning salons, estheticians, skin care, tattoo shops).”

It puts concerns in the UK about mandates for employees somewhat in the shade….


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How you can support IATSE

Here’s a link to IATSE’s campaign toolkit – lots of resources you can use to show your support.

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Eva Wiseman in The Observer

I thought I’d posted this earlier in the week but it seems I missed it. There’s a very good round-up of the many issues facing people working in film and TV from Eva Wiseman in The Observer.

It draws heavily upon Bectu work including the ‘State of Play 2021: Management Practices in UK Unscripted Television‘ report and the Eyes Half Shut report from 2017.


Posted in Bectu Agreements, Bullying and Harassment, Equality, Freelance working, Health & Safety, Long hours, Major Motion Picture Agreement, Management, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Trades Unions, TV Drama Agreement, Wellbeing, Work-life balance, Workplace conflict | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Global survey highlights long-hours work problem

A long-planned piece of joint-campaigning with Uni-Mei (the global federation of unions that BECTU is a member of, alongside IATSE and many others) on long-hours working has happened at a very fortuitous time.

Read more about the joint research that we have been doing on long-hours working – globally – here.

Give it a rest - IATSE

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Highway Code updated – new penalties for being too tired to drive

Every UK driver could face ‘unlimited fines’ under new sleeping law. (Manchester Evening News)

This should be of interest to all Bectu members working in production, as well as being useful evidence in support of the campaign we are running in partnership with our union kin, IATSE at the moment.

Clauses 90 – 94 of the Highway Code have been updated to say…

Driving when you are tired greatly increases your risk of collision. To minimise this risk

  • make sure you are fit to drive. Do not begin a journey if you are tired. Get sufficient sleep before embarking on a long journey
  • avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum
  • plan your journey to take sufficient breaks. A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended
  • if you feel sleepy, stop in a safe place. Do not stop in an emergency area or on a hard shoulder of a motorway (see Rule 262 for guidance on places to take a break when travelling on motorways).

As the RAC explains: Continue reading

Posted in Bectu Agreements, Long hours, Major Motion Picture Agreement, Safe working practices, Trades Unions, TV Drama Agreement, Wellbeing, Work-life balance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hot workplaces

Noting the changing working environment that results from climate change, the Biden Whitehouse is coordinating an interagency effort to …

“…respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially workers, children, and seniors.”

The TUC have emailed to highlight this saying: Continue reading

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IATSE go back into talks with AMPTP following overwhelming strike mandate

Following the overwhelming support given to a strike ballot, and a slew of pressure from Californian and New York politicos, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) are now headed back into talks with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) next Tuesday about working conditions in the sector.

AMPTP’s statement appears to read the room…

“We deeply value our IATSE crew members and are committed to working with them to avoid shutting down the industry at such a pivotal time, particularly since the industry is still recovering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Iatse’s position is one that UK Bectu members could identify with very clearly:

“The strong labor-management partnership in the entertainment industry has been essential to its success. It has also been key to the ability of all the unions and employers to respond when faced with difficult issues that impact the industry as evidenced by the unique COVID safety protocols that were jointly agreed to and put in place in 2020.

We urge the AMPTP to recognize the sacrifices made by workers in this industry, to negotiate in good faith, and to reach a fair contract to address the core issues of health and safety, reasonable workhours, and fair pay.”

Posted in Film & TV industry policy, Health & Safety, Long hours, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, Wellbeing, Work-life balance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bectu’s new virtual ‘bullying and harassment hub’ launched.

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Long hours, Mental Health, Wellbeing, Workplace conflict | Leave a comment

DCMS parliamentary committee (effectively) opposes Paul Dacre appointment at Ofcom

It seems that Julian Knight MP, the (Conservative) chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee wrote to Oliver Dowden (subsequently reshuffled) effectively opposing the appointment of Paul Dacre as chair of Ofcom.

“…the industry standard for rerunning a recruitment campaign would note that candidates previously deemed to be unappointable should not re-apply. We would expect that this campaign should contain a similar rubric.”

(Thanks to Carole Tongue for the tip)

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Theatre employment problems must be a trigger for change

In this report (in The Stage [£]) about ongoing turmoil at The Barbican, there’s this:

“Theatre workers with transferable skills transferred them. Now, they don’t appear to be rushing to transfer them back. Practically every producer and theatre manager I talk to at the moment speaks of shortages among skilled technical staff, wig makers, make-up artists and the like.

Meanwhile, those left in the sector are finding themselves understaffed and overstretched as theatre attempts to return to a similar level of activity that it pumped out pre-pandemic.”

Posted in Coronavirus, Theatre and Live Events data | Tagged | Leave a comment

Homeworking will help improve women’s careers

The option to work from home is likely to help employers retain valuable workers, and can make the balance of work and childcare a lot easier to manage. It is likely to result in more ‘returners’ after periods of maternity and parental leave.

“According to a survey for the BBC, just over half (56%) of women said they thought working from home would help them progress at work, as childcare and caring duties become less of a hindrance to working full-time.

In all, 65% of managers felt that working from home helps advance women’s careers.”

More on this here.

Posted in Equality, Family rights, Gender equality, Gender pay, Remote working, Work-life balance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Only a union can truly protect members from unsafe workplaces.”

In his speech to Equity’s Special Representative Conference, General Secretary Paul Fleming, called for an end to a “seedy culture of misogyny and predatory workplace behaviour” in the sector that his union shares with Bectu members.

More on this in The Stage [£] here.

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VAT gradually returning to normal rates

Since July 2020, there has been a reduced rate of VAT (5%, and not the normal 20%) charged on transactions in the leisure and hospitality sectors (which includes theatres and live events – a list of who it applies to can be seen here).

Plans earlier this year to return to the full rate were successfully challenged and a six month extension was obtained in the 2021 budget (along with a package of other measures) with the not-unreasonable argument that the sector was still substantially handcuffed by the coronavirus restrictions and a reluctance among customers to return.

The 5% rate ended on September 30th – up to 12.5% before returning to the full 20% next March.

With the end of furlough, the Universal Credit rises, inflation, and Brexit-related labour shortages, it’s shaping up to be a defining few months for our sector and for the economy.

Posted in Economics, Employment, EU & Brexit, Inflation, Theatre and Live Events data, VAT | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Updated guidance on Covid travel restrictions in England

The UK Screen Alliance has, with Bectu feedback, been publishing guidance for safe working in post-production & VFX during the Covid 19 pandemic.

This guidance has been updated to reflect today’s simplification of international travel restrictions in England which has removed the Amber and Green lists such that there is now only a Red list.

Some restrictions still apply for travel from non-Red list countries. NB, different rules apply in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The updated guidance can be downloaded on the UK Screen Alliance website – here.

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IATSE votes overwhelmingly to mandate coast-to-coast strike action

Variety report here.

Hollywood Reporter report here.


Posted in Film & TV industry policy, Trades Unions | Tagged | 1 Comment

Negotiating expenses for working in London (a guide for non-Londoners)

If (for example) you are based in Glasgow but you are asked to spend time working in London, what % uplift should you ask employers for when negotiating expenses?

There’s a website called Numbeo that tracks and compares the cost of living in different cities. I’ve just run a comparison between London and Glasgow and got this:

  • Consumer Prices in London are 27.36% higher than in Glasgow (without rent)
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in London are 64.57% higher than in Glasgow
  • Rent Prices in London are 168.08% higher than in Glasgow
  • Restaurant Prices in London are 10.51% higher than in Glasgow
  • Groceries Prices in London are 21.68% higher than in Glasgow
  • Local Purchasing Power in London is 3.54% lower than in Glasgow

Continue reading

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Positive working environment “will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.”

Those bug-eyed Marxist fanatics over at the Harvard Business Review are making the case against aggressive management practices again:

“…a large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.”

They cite three key costs to businesses: Continue reading

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Employment, Employment Law and Rights, Long hours, Mental Health, Productivity, Wellbeing, Workplace conflict, Workplaces | Leave a comment