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

Posted in Equality, Gender equality, Gender pay, Gender representation, Theatre and Live Events data | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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?


Posted in Economics, Low pay, Productivity, Trades Unions, Wages and Pay-rates | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Bectu Agreements, Long hours, Major Motion Picture Agreement, TV Drama Agreement, Work-life balance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Health & Safety, Safe working standards, The working environment, Workplaces | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.”

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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.

Posted in Gender equality, Sexual harassment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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

More on UK/US unscripted production partnerships

Futher to the recent post about Netflix partnerships with UK PSBs, NBC Universal has also done an unscripted formats deal with the BBC.

Posted in Factual & Entertainment sector data, Film & TV industry data, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, Skills & capacity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Women more likely to leave the Theatre sector post-pandemic

A survey [pdf], earlier this year, by Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts (PIPA) highlights a survey it did of members, which showed that 43% of parents or carers were considering abandoning their career because of the pandemic.

The Stage [£] reports:

“Overnight, parents and carers feel unsafe and more vulnerable. Many have already been forced to look for permanent work outside the sector and almost half say they are considering leaving the sector,” it warns.

PIPA said that its research showed those who leave the industry will disproportionately be mothers and female carers, and those without social capital to fall back on.

Also, (from the report) with a particularly cruel punchline (my emphasis):

“Work has collapsed, with nearly 60% of respondents now working fewer than eight hours a week, compared to only 7% before Covid. Childcare responsibilities mean that it is much harder to be available for what few work opportunities come up. 80% of respondents were wholly or partly self-employed: many failed to qualify, or only qualified for a small amount of SEISS support, frequently this was because of having taken a period of maternity leave or reduced working hours due to care responsibilities.”

Posted in Coronavirus, Disability equality, Equality, Family rights, Gender equality, Theatre and Live Events data, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

France places new obligations on video-on-demand providers

From the European Audiovisual Observatory:

“In future, VOD services must devote at least 20% of the turnover they generate in France to the funding of European or French cinematographic and audiovisual production. The proportion is increased to 25% for services that offer films less than 12 months after their release.

The ratio between cinematographic and audiovisual works will be laid down in an agreement to be concluded with the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (the French audiovisual regulator – CSA) within four months, with each category representing at least 20% of the total contribution. Continue reading

Posted in Culture policy, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, Quotas, Regulation, SVoD, Tax incentives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Philippa Childs to Nadine Dorries: “Challenge bullying and harassment and support freelancers”

The Stage[£] has picked up on the Head of Bectu’s letter to incoming Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. Philippa has outlined what the union believes the priorities should be, specifically…

  • Tackling bullying and harassment in the creative industries.
  • Supporting workers and businesses until the end of Covid interruptions.
  • Supporting the heritage sector and protecting the UK’s museums and galleries.
  • Acting as a voice for freelancers and the self-employed.
  • Celebrating the success of the creative industries.
  • Supporting touring professionals.

Continue reading

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CIPD calls for ethnicity pay gap reporting

From the CIPD website:

“The moral case for pay fairness across all ethnic groups is self-evident. Yet, we still await the consultation response to the 2018 UK Government consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay reporting.

And, while the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests led many organisations to publicly condemn racism and discrimination, few have taken steps to voluntarily disclose their ethnicity pay gap, which can play a key role in assessing if and where inequalities exist in their workforce.

In the absence of legislation, the CIPD believes that employers should aim to voluntarily compile ethnicity pay reports as part of their organisation’s approach to improve inclusion and tackle inequality in the workplace.”

Posted in Equality, Race equality | Tagged | Leave a comment

Free database of legal developments in the Europen audiovisual sector

This one is probably only useful to massive geeks (hi!) but I’m telling you about it anyway just in case you find it useful.

The European Audiovisual Observatory maintains a database of legal developments in all key areas, all key players all legal developments since 1995, covering 41 countries and international institutions.

IRIS Merlin contains over 9000 short descriptive articles based solely on facts with 8628 (and counting) references (laws, decrees, court cases, etc.) and it is searchable by keywords, date, country, and topic.

(Thanks to Carole Tongue for the tip!)

Posted in Factual & Entertainment sector data, Feature film data, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Public Service Broadcasting, Quotas, Regulation, SVoD, Tax incentives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bectu Theatre Freelance Branch push for gender equity

Building on a strong piece in The Stage [£] from earlier this year by Catherine Kodicek, she has another article in this week that gives good coverage for the new Bectu Theatre Freelancers Branch talking about gender equity.

“BECTU does listen to the costume community, and we’ve seen some of the good the union can do when it has committed members willing to work together. I cheered when English National Opera and the union came to a landmark pay equity deal that saw the costume team’s pay increase significantly to bring them in line with other technical workers doing jobs of equal value.

That agreement was possible because all genders worked together in the spirit of fairness.”



Posted in Equality, Gender equality, Gender pay, Theatre and Live Events data | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Costs of streaming services relative to the TV licence fee

Tim Davie has been talking to the DCMS select committee yesterday about the licence fee.

Some highlights:

“Netflix, Spotify, Apple – price rises of 20-30% this year, we have gone up 1% this year.”

There’s a useful summary of SVoD pricing (and recent price rises) here. Continue reading

Posted in BBC, Public Service Broadcasting, Regulation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Unscripted TV production has too few customers

Another very good article from the consistently smart Sarah O’Connor in the FT[£].

There’s little more to add than that Bectu members can substitute ‘broadcast commissioners’ for ‘supermarkets’ and a lot of this will ring true for them. It’s the big story in the factual / entertainment sector but it also applies, to some extent to drama.

They may not quite be a monopsony, but they’re not far off. Production companies are forced to compete in a race-to-the-bottom in terms of prices, with all that this entails.

Monopsonies are bad for business and need market-correcting regulation. For such an important part of the economy not having such regulations is a policy failure.


Posted in Economics, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, Regulation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Racial Diversity Initiatives in UK Film and TV – critical Film and TV Charity report

Variety seem to have an exclusive on a Film & TV Charity report[pdf] on Racial Diversity Initiatives in UK Film & TV by Dr Clive Nwonka and Professor Sarita Malik.

Here are the top lines from it:

“There is a notable absence of an account, analysis or explanation from the various institutions and organizations as to why such schemes and initiatives have produced stagnated or in many instances regressive outcomes for Black and Ethnic Minorities in the film sector,”

Posted in Diversity of representation, Equality, Race equality | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Right to request flexible working to become a ‘day one right’?

The BBC are reporting that the right to request flexible working (currently something that employees have a statutory right to request after six months) can be requested on day one – when they start a new job. Employers would also have to respond to such requests more quickly.

The TUC aren’t popping the champagne corks though:

“TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that flexible working “should be a right” to everyone from their first day in the job.

“But these proposals won’t be the game changer ministers claim, as employers can still turn down any or all requests for flexible working,” she continued.

“The government should change the law so that workers have the legal right to flexible work from day one in the job – not just the right to ask for it.””


Posted in Employment, Employment Law and Rights, Family rights, Productivity | Tagged | Leave a comment

IATSE seek authorisation from members for strike action

IATSE is seeking authorisation to take an industrywide strike against film and TV production for the first time in the union’s history. This is not the same as a mandate to carry out strike action – the ballot would allow the union to do so if they see fit though.

UPDATE: More detailed Variety report on the prospects of strike action are, and what IATSE are asking for here.

In summary, it is about long hours, and rates paid for ‘new media’ work. IATSE is bullish and from what I can see on social media, the members are very riled up too.

If the UK is anything to go by, IATSE will have heard a lot of anger and increased expectations around change from their members since the lockdown. Deadline is reporting…. Continue reading

Posted in Film & TV industry policy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Cultural Diversity arguments against Channel Four privatisation

The UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity (UKCCD) have published their submission to the consultation on Channel Four privatisation here [pdf].

It makes a key point that should concern Bectu members who are concerned about the quality of the content that they work on:

“This consultation takes place at a time of particular vulnerability for the independence of UK audiovisual production following the rise in SVoD streaming during the pandemic and the skills shortage resulting from Brexit. Continue reading

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

Netflix cleans up at the Emmy Awards

From Variety:

“For the first time ever, Netflix won more Emmys than any other platform. It did so while more than doubling the Emmy haul of its nearest competition, which was HBO/HBO Max with 19 total wins.”

Full story here. 2021 is looking like the year that the world of TV and film changes decisively.

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Participatory democracy – how to do it well

A freelance union branch has to decide what its policies (e.g. ratecards,  policies on how the industry should be managed and run, etc) and how it is going to implement them (democratic collective action – sticking together on key points and the strategies they use to pressure employers into agreeing less one-sided contracts).

Using Participatory Democracy well can result in more people being invested in decisions – more people being prepared to go along with them. Anyone who wants to do this very well can draw upon a wealth of research that is available through Participedia. This may prove to be a useful introduction?

Posted in Game theory, Organising Skills, Recruitment and organising | Tagged , | Leave a comment