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Pact invites streamers, broadcasters to summit discussing rejected Bectu deal

UK producers association Pact has invited streamers and broadcasters to a summit to discuss the ramifications of the rejection of its latest deal by broadcasting union Bectu.

Max Rumney

The meeting, which is being organised with broadcasters including the pubcasters and Sky, will take place next week and will raise discussions on what will happen when Pact and Bectu’s current agreement ends on September 1.

Last month, Pact sent a proposal to Bectu that sought to improve the terms of their drama agreement, established in 2017 to ensure fair working terms and conditions for crew in the independent scripted sector.

The proposal included measures such as shorter working days, additional pay for prep and wrap, unsocial hours payments, increased overtime fee caps and bank holidays paid at double time.

But earlier this week, Bectu rejected Pact’s offer after the union’s head Philippa Childs urged members to refuse the deal on the basis that it does not adequately distinguish the boundaries between working time and personal time, and lacks the “detail and clarity necessary for our members to feel confident that their concerns have been addressed.”

Philippa Childs

“We have been clear from the beginning that the updated agreement needs to urgently address the long hours and wellbeing crisis our members are facing,” Childs said in July after Pact put forward its proposal.

“The current offer does not do that. Many of the improvements only apply to shooting hours/days, devaluing work done outside filming hours, and there are loopholes that would allow productions to schedule around penalties.”

Following that, Pact’s indie members wrote a letter to crew members working on projects covered by the current Pact/Bectu agreement, warning that the country’s entire scripted TV sector risked “being damaged” if Bectu’s members rejected the offer.

“Financial modelling suggests that many productions will not be financially viable under the terms Bectu have posted via their branches,” read the letter, which was signed and supported by more than 70 companies and disseminated by Pact.

Upon its rejection of the offer on Monday, Bectu sent new proposals to Pact this week including renewed demands for no weekend working without crew approval and no overtime without crew approval. It also sent further points to Pact that it wants clarifying from the offer just rejected.

Max Rumney, Pact’s deputy CEO and director of business affairs, said all queries are being answered. However, he added: “The rejection by Bectu members of the new terms and conditions creates a problem that the independent producers cannot resolve on their own.

“Heads of production are clear that demands such as no weekend working without crew approval and no overtime without crew approval will damage the ability to schedule and, in some cases, make it impossible to produce within budgets agreed.

“Historically, the rates of pay in the sector reflected recognition of the need for some antisocial hours due to factors including the availability of locations and actors.

“If Bectu’s priority is now to address the work-life balance, the question is how that can be funded. It will require a broader look at the financing and scheduling of production, and not simply a revision of terms and conditions alone.”

Pact noted that its proposal includes measures designed to create a better work-life balance, such as the shorter working day and a producer penalty for any shoot days beyond five in a working week. According to the company, indies have warned that even those measures will make some lower-budget productions unviable and jeopardise inward investment.


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