Update on TV Drama Negotiations


By Mark Keady

Over the course of the past year, BECTU officials and branch representatives have been meeting with PACT officials and Independent TV Production companies to discuss and devise a set of Good Practice Guidelines, along with a Deal Memo for every employee starting on a new production.

Discussions started in July 2015 with representatives from a wide range of BECTU branches. Editing, Camera, AD’s, Grips, Costume, Sound, Location and others have sent at least two representatives from their branch to have their concerns heard and to bring about better working conditions.

After much back and forth, in February 2016 both sides came to an agreement and finalised the Deal Memo and made good progress on the Draft Guidelines to Good Practice. These negotiations cover employees working on a drama for an Independent TV Production company (like Kudos, Tiger Aspect, 50 Fathoms, Red Planet).

Both documents are to be given to every new employee at the start of every job.

The Deal Memo aims to improve transparency for all crew, and will detail key information about the job; start date, length of engagement, agreed hours, agreed rate, overtime rate, and even contact details for any complaints the employee may have.

Download the Deal Memo, to have it readily available for your next job.

Production companies would still continue to issue contracts and letters of engagement to all employees, as the Deal Memo will not sufficiently replace these.

The Guidelines will cover topics in a little more detail. It includes points such as work schedules, basic facilities, rest periods, health and safety and meal breaks. While the majority of the terms & conditions have been drawn up, there are still two outstanding points to be finalised. These are clawback and the 11 day fortnight.

For anyone who is unaware, clawback is the process of adjusting the shoot hours each day to work backwards to an earlier call time for the unit by the end of the week. For example, a production which has a 3pm call time on monday will need to clawback hours over the rest of the week to have an 11am call time by the friday. The call time will get earlier by an hour each day to make this work.

The 11 day fortnight means a crew member works a 6th day every other week, but is not paid an extra day’s rate for it. It is used by productions to get the most out of locations and cast if they are on a tight schedule, but often it is taken advantage of and crew members are required to work without adequate rest periods. With the support of all branches, BECTU are working hard to eliminate this practice altogether, or at the very least minimise it as much as possible.

Both of these outstanding points are currently being worked out between PACT and BECTU and should hopefully reach a conclusion over the coming months. We will continue to keep you updated as to how they progress.

The past year’s worth of negotiations, resulting in the culmination of these two documents, are examples of what we can achieve with strength in numbers. This is only the start of what we can accomplish if we all work together to create a better working environment for everyone within our industry.