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Unions pressure ITV over Leftfield

Unions have called on ITV Studios (ITVS) America to improve working conditions at Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment following its US$360m takeover of the US firm last week.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) East and AFL-CIO want ITVS to make benefits for US workers similar to those in the UK, following its acquisition of Leftfield and others in the past two years.

The WGA is calling for minimum levels of health benefits, compensation and paid time off, all of which affect the 100 writers and producers that work with ITVS America during the year.

On Monday, the unions staged a protest at ITVS’s New York offices with AFL-CIO exec Corey Johnson at the scene urging the UK-based firm to enter a collective bargaining agreement with WGA.

“The creative economy is important to New York City and we need to encourage its growth. But we don’t need to encourage the growth of a business model that takes advantage of a precarious freelance workforce,” said Johnson.

The dispute between the WGA and ITVS dates back to 2010, and has seen the union battle for minimum working conditions at the other companies ITVS now owns, including Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, Thinkfactory Media and DiGa.

In a statement, ITVS said: “ITV Studios America is in ongoing talks with the WGA East and has no further comments at this stage.”

The deal to acquire 80% of Leftfield made ITVS the largest independent unscripted TV producer in the US, according to the company.

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