Latest News from the Feature Film Negotiations
In response to the action by BECTU members to unilaterally start imposing terms and conditions, PACT have approached BECTU and asked to restart talks. It’s fair to say that BECTU members were sceptical about PACT’s intentions, but in a major development, PACT have agreed to include the BFI, British Film Commission and the Production Guild in talks.
Representatives of the feature film branches agreed to the following:
- Negotiations will commence without delay and will be chaired by an independent conciliator acceptable to both parties
- Talks on overtime rates will be concluded no later than April 30th
- All other agenda items will be agreed within a further 2 months and be concluded no later than July 1st.
If this timetable is not adhered to, BECTU will withdraw from the negotiations.
In return, BECTU are asking their members to NOT start imposing their own T&Cs, (i.e. the overtime clause which was to take effect from March 1st, and the 6th / 7th days multipliers which were to be actioned from April 1st).
We'll keep you posted with updates on the negotiations.
The Post Production & Facilities Branch Committee
A Way Forward?
As you are probably aware, BECTU, in consultation with their members, have been holding talks with the producers’ umbrella organisation, PACT, with the aim of agreeing a set of terms of conditions (T&Cs).
There have been two sets of talks; one for TV drama, one for film. The TV negotiations are at a very advanced stage, the production companies who have been negotiating on PACT’s side seem to have a real appetite to clarify working practices. Delegates from every department have been attending meetings over the course of the last couple of years and it is possible that a full set of T&Cs will be ratified in the very near future. This is going to bring real, tangible improvements to our working lives. In particular, in the future, every hour worked will be paid, and there will be set terms for overtime.
By way of contrast, the film negotiations have been going on since 2012, with no apparent enthusiasm for an agreement from the producers who’ve attended the talks.
We know that a lot of senior people in the film industry want clarity. People in Production want a codified set of T&Cs so that a line producer can draw up a budget with confidence. However, producers have spent recent years stalling and obfuscating. They have been hard to pin down for meetings, and they blow hot and cold about their interest in having an agreement.
We think that the time has come for them to decide whether they want have a formal agreement or whether they want crew to start campaigning and sticking together to press for individual changes to our contracts.
So in consultation with other branches, we have decided to do the following:
We will start asking for our own terms and conditions on US studio productions only at this stage. We will start changing our terms, one condition at a time, on the first day of each month, starting in March.
We have spoken to other branches and they are all going to be doing something similar.
But will it work?
We’re doing this from a position of real strength. Inward investment from US studios is high, there are real worries amongst producers that there may be skills shortages in some departments this year. The fall in the value of the pound has made it even more advantageous for the studios to make their films here. Now is the time to take a stand as the falling cost of producing US films in the UK creates a space for flexibility and adjustment on all sides.
We know that these concerns are widely shared. People have noticed that the union membership is at an all-time high in the UK, having gone up by 33% in since March 2014. The London Production Division of BECTU has exceeded 10,000 members for the first time in its history.
So the first two T&Cs we aim to call for are:
- From March 1st, all overtime to be charged at time-and-a-half (T1.5) OR £50/65 ph, whichever is higher
The £50 figure applies when you’ve done a standard working day (SWD), i.e. 10 hours work plus an unpaid hour for lunch. The £65 figure applies when you’ve done a continuous working day (CWD), i.e. 9 hours with no lunch break. NO MORE BUYOUTS.
- From April 1st, all Saturdays to be charged at T1.5, any Sunday (and subsequent days) to be charged at double time (T2)
A new condition is to be applied on the first day of every subsequent month, until we have a full set of T&Cs.
How will this work in practice?
From 1st March, when negotiating your deal, take these conditions into account. When you receive your contract, if any clause does not conform to your wishes, you can simply strike out the line that you don’t agree with, write in your terms and initial it, before sending back to the line producer.
If you’re already working on a US studio production and the terms of your contract do not conform to this, you can send a letter to your line producer notifying them of your desire to apply a ‘Notice of variation’ to your contract. Detail which clauses you’d like to amend and give them the new terms.
This should be done soon in preparation for your work in March.
Yes, but will it work??!??!
It will if a significant proportion of people do this.
15th Feb., 2017
Update 28th Feb., 2017