LONDON, UK – Unions representing non-fiction TV workers in Canada and the UK are joining forces this week to highlight the problems with working conditions in the sector. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and BECTU are delivering principles aimed at improving the situation to production and broadcast executives attending Realscreen, an industry conference taking place on October 8 and 9 at the TUC’s London Congress Centre.
Workers in the UK and Canada have reported similar concerns about unreasonable working hours, unpaid time and lack of safety in non-fiction/factual production.
“Right now, this is an unsustainable sector of the production industry,” says Carmel Smyth, national president of the Canadian Media Guild. “People are burning out and getting hurt. They’re telling us they want a voice and standards so they can earn a living making programming for years to come. We’re eager to sit down with production companies and discuss how to make it better.”
The principles the two unions are presenting, which are also supported by the Writers Guild of America East, are modeled on the Code of Practice that BECTU developed in 2013 to improve working conditions for factual workers in the UK.
“Factual production is an increasingly important part of UK, and now global, broadcast content and yet working conditions remain sub-standard. Excessive working hours, inadequate rest time and poor health and safety management continue to top the list of workers concerns here in the UK. It’s time for all employers in the sector to take their responsibilities more seriously. The industry talks about production values that should also include the ethics of programme-making form the workers’ point of view,” said Sharon Elliott, BECTU’s communications officer.
Together the unions are seeking the following commitments from production companies:
Pay people fairly for the work they do
Reasonable working hours
Reasonable time off, including appropriate paid time off
Make the safety and health of everyone involved a top priority for each production and make sure everyone has what they need to work safely (including, where appropriate, quality, affordable health insurance)
Negotiate terms with workers and/or their union in good faith and a timely manner. Seal it with a written contract.
No penalties or reprisals against workers who are represented by a union or guild.
For more information on the unions’ campaign activity contact: