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Bectu members vote ‘overwhelmingly’ to reject latest Pact deal

The immediate future of UK drama production has been cast into fresh doubt after members of broadcasting union Bectu voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the latest working conditions agreement put forward by producers association Pact.

Philippa Childs

The Pact/Bectu UK TV drama agreement was established in 2017 and covers key working terms and conditions for crew in the independent scripted sector.

Pact has put forward a package of improved terms and conditions, under which crew would benefit from shorter working days, additional pay for prep and wrap, unsocial hours payments, increased overtime fee caps and bank holidays paid at double time.

But Bectu has pushed back, particularly against a lack of protection of boundaries between personal time and working hours.

Bectu head Philippa Childs said today her members had voted “overwhelmingly” to endorse the union’s position and given a “clear mandate to seek further discussions.”

Childs said: “The UK TV drama industry has reached a critical point, with many crew suffering from burnout and low morale and unable to sustain a family life and their own wellbeing. At a time when the industry is thriving, we know many talented workers are leaving due to the unsustainable long hours culture. It’s time to meet these issues head on with an agreement that addresses our members’ concerns and is fit for the future to ensure the industry, and its staff, thrive for years to come.

“Bectu remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement that meets our objective of improving crew wellbeing and reducing excessive and unsociable hours, and supporting industry growth. We look forward to meeting with Pact to discuss a way forward as a matter of urgency.”

Max Rumney

In response, Max Rumney, Pact deputy CEO and director of business affairs, said: “Pact members are understandably disappointed at the rejection of our offer. It was very strong and made real strides in addressing concerns over working practices and the work-life balance. If any of the details were not clear, we remain available to provide further clarification.”

The key points being voted on include provisions stating that a standard filming day should be restricted to a maximum of 10 hours on camera plus an hour for lunch; a producer penalty should be introduced for any shoot days beyond five days in a working week; bank holidays should be paid at double time if worked; if a crew member works beyond their contracted hours and goes over to complete a shot, they should be paid for this time as overtime; the overtime cap should be increased to £70 (US$85.70) per hour, with the £35 per hour floor retained to protect lower-paid crew.

Last week, Pact members wrote to Bectu crew members saying UK scripted productions would not be financially viable unless the new terms were agreed upon.

“Financial modelling suggests that many productions will not be financially viable under the terms Bectu have posted via their branches,” read the letter addressed to all crew members working on projects covered by the current Pact/Bectu UK TV drama agreement. It was signed and supported by more than 70 companies and disseminated by Pact.


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