BECTU Conference 1998 NEC report

The National Executive Committee

1 The National Executive Committee has, since conference 1996, met on the following dates: 1996, 26 April, 19 May, 30 June, 11 August, 22 September, 3 November, 15 December: 1997, 26 January, 9 March, 20 April, 1 June, 13 July, 17 August, 28 September, 9 November, 14 December: 1998, 18 January, 8 March, 19 April, 15 May.

2 The members of the National Executive Committee elected with effect from 19 May 1996 were: Jack Amos, Helene Bevan, Robert Caswell, Peter Coggon, Peter Cox, Mark David-Gray, Annabel Dunbar, Lynn Lloyd, Andy Love, Wyn Lowes, David Randles, Tony Scott, Margaret Watts and Cris Woodcock.

3 In September 1996 David Randles resigned from the National Executive Committee. A by-election was conducted amongst members in the Independent Broadcasting Division and as a result of the by-election James McGirr was elected to the National Executive Committee on the 1 November 1996. In March 1998 Peter Coggon was appointed a National Official of the union, and Kate Walker, the runner-up in the Arts & Entertainment divisional election in 1996, assumed office for the remainder of the term.

4 The General Officers elected by the National Executive Committee on the 19 May 1996 were: Tony Lennon (President), Tudor Gates (Vice-President) and Turlough MacDaid (Treasurer). They have continued to serve in those positions.

5 The minutes of the 1996 Rules Revision and Annual Conference were circulated to branches in Branch Circular 479 dated 2 May 1996.

6 The NEC was extremely concerned to note the low percentage of women delegates attending the union's 1996 annual conference, and has given active consideration as to how to improve attendance by women delegates. The General Secretary has, on behalf of the NEC, issued branch circulars and written articles in the union's journal. He has also written to branches encouraging them to select women as delegates to the union's 1998 conference.

Proposition 1/98: General Officers [AP3]

That this conference instructs the NEC to ensure that at least one of the General Officers (President/Vice President/Treasurer) to be elected by the incoming NEC is a woman; and that women are appropriately represented on all sub-committees and representative groups formed and appointed by the NEC.

North West Freelance

7 The National Executive Committee at its meeting on the 9 March 1997 decided to hold the union's 1998 conference in Manchester. The National Executive Committee are currently giving consideration to holding the union's 1999 Rules Revision and Annual Conference in Brighton.

8 The 1996 Rules Revision and Annual Conference of the union permitted the National Executive Committee to decide whether there was to be an annual conference of the union in 1997, which was to be conditional on the union's financial position. The National Executive Committee, at its meeting held on 11 August 1996, decided that there would not be an annual conference of the union in 1997 and that all appointments, reports and other matters that would have been determined by or received at that conference would be held over until the annual conference in 1998. The Financial Report and Audited Accounts for the year ended 31 December 1996 were published in Branch Circular 490/1997.

9 Branch Circular 502/1998 dated 8 January 1998 invited branches to submit nominations for election to the NEC to hold office from 1998 to 2000. The results of the divisional ballots required will be announced at the end of this conference. Ballots were required in the London Production and Regional Production divisions: a by-election is required in the Independent Broadcasting division, where only one nomination was received for two NEC places. In the Arts & Entertainment, BBC and Laboratories divisions the number of nominations equalled the number of NEC places, and consequently no ballots were required in those divisions.

10 The NEC at its meeting on the 9 November 1997 agreed to start the process for the General Secretary election in accordance with the provisions of rule 38. Branch Circular 501/1998 dated 14 November 1997 invited branches to make nominations. It also set out the ground rules for the conduct of the election. Branch Circular 511/1998 reported that at the closing date there were two candidates, Roger Bolton and Vincent Feiner. The result of the election ballot is due to be declared on 6 May 1998.

Property and finance

11 The National Executive Committee, at its meeting held on 19 May 1996, considered an unsolicited offer that had been received by the General Secretary to purchase the union's freehold interest of 2 Soho Square for the sum of £880,000. The National Executive Committee decided that the General Secretary be authorised to direct the union's Trustees at the appropriate time to sell 2 Soho Square for a price of not less than £880,000 and that the underlying principle of the decision to sell 2 Soho Square was to enable the union to pay off the loan with Unity Trust Bank and to reduce the union's overdraft facilities. The property was sold accordingly on 16 September 1996 for £880,000.

12 The NEC at its meeting on the 26 April 1996 considered a report from the General Secretary following a meeting of the General Officers of BECTU, the National Union of Journalists and the Society of Telecom Executives on the 25 April 1996. The meeting had concluded that none of the unions taking part had any current interest in amalgamation but that they were all interested in what savings, if any, could be derived by the three unions entering into an arrangement whereby they shared a common building and some basic services. The NEC agreed that BECTU, together with the NUJ and STE, should conduct whatever enquiries were necessary to establish what the cost would be of leasing a building of approximately 25,000 sq. ft. and that the General Secretary should seek to establish what income could be obtained by BECTU leasing its current head office.

13 The NEC at its meeting on the 15 December 1996 considered the conclusions of the feasibility study that had been carried out. A building had been identified in High Holborn with 28,000 sq. ft. split over seven floors but it was not possible to carry the project further forward without each of the unions incurring costs of between £3,000 and £5,000. No financial costs had at that time been incurred. The NEC decided not to proceed further with this project because of their concern about the risks involved in moving to a new head office without there being an agreed tenant to take over Wardour Street at the point when BECTU would move out, and because of the high initial costs of the operation, approximately £160,000 in the first two years.

14 The union continues to operate under the provisions of a facilities agreement between BECTU and Unity Trust Bank. The facility BECTU currently requires of the Bank is an overdraft requirement of approximately £150,000.

15 A major concern for the National Executive Committee since its election in 1996 has been to ensure that the union operates within the budgetary limits set annually by the NEC. The margin between our income and our expenditure has been, and continues to be, so tight as to allow little room for error. It would not have been possible to have strived for a balanced budget in 1997 unless the NEC had taken advantage of the opportunity granted to it by the union's 1996 conference not to hold an annual conference in 1997, nor would it have been possible to have strived for a balanced budget had there been a staff pay increase during 1997.

16 Attached as Appendix A to this report is the draft income and expenditure account forecast for 1998. The NEC believe that 1998 must be a defining year in terms of the union's finances. It is neither desirable nor practical in the long term to continue in the "hand to mouth" existence we have lived with since 1994. A large part of the expenditure is made up of the staff employment bill. We have one of the most generous official-to-member ratios in the TUC. The NEC continue to believe that the special nature of the sectors we organise means that this level of service is required by the membership. Our ability to continue to afford to service members in this way will be dependent upon two key factors; the first being the success of the recruitment and retention campaign in 1998, and the second being the successful implementation of the NEC's policy proposition on subscriptions, submitted under rule 9(e), being debated by this year's conference.

Recruitment and retention

17 The TUC and its affiliated unions have, in the last two years, come to see recruitment and retention as a core activity. BECTU was one of the pioneering unions in promoting the importance of recruitment and retention in 1994 and by continuing to do so each year since then. This is an area in which BECTU has led by example. The success of our recruitment and retention campaign has resulted in an increase in our membership since 1994 of over 3,000 and it is unsurprising in the circumstances that our influence and strength continues to grow.

18 The NEC is urging every branch to examine critically its recruitment and retention policy; to set targets if they have not already done so; to develop strategies in order to ensure that the targets are met. It needs to be stressed at every level in the union that organising is the life blood of the union. BECTU will not survive without effective recruitment and retention strategies.

Proposition 2/98 Workings of the union [AP2]

That this conference instructs the NEC to form a working party to revise the modus operandi and the raison d'être of the union as a whole.

To survive we have to staunch the haemorrhage of membership and attract new, vital young blood to our ranks.

The remit for this working party will be to report to lay membership within six months. Producers/Directors


Delete "revise the modus operandi and the raison d'être" and insert "review the modus operandi"

Film & Tape Editing

Inter-union relations

19 The NEC reaffirms its belief that it is in the best interests of the membership of BECTU for BECTU to remain an independent trade union and that to transfer our engagements to another larger union would result in an unacceptable reduction in the level of services enjoyed by our members.

20 The NEC also believes that we should co-operate with other unions in specific projects where it is in the interests of our membership to do so.

21 BECTU was approached by the National Association of Licensed House Managers in September 1996 and asked to consider accepting a transfer of engagements. This was considered by the NEC at its meetings on the 22 September and 3 November 1996. The NEC at its meeting in November 1996, having considered a report from the General Secretary, concluded that it would not process any further discussions with the National Association of Licensed House Managers regarding a transfer of engagements by them to BECTU.

22 Since the Directors' Guild of Great Britain was established in the early '90s both BECTU and the Directors' Guild have sought to represent the interests of United Kingdom directors. The major beneficiaries of this power struggle have been the United Kingdom employers and producers, as the consequence of the power struggle has been that the interests of directors have not been effectively represented by either body. Discussions between BECTU and the Directors' Guild of Great Britain about the future nature of our relationship started in 1997 and are currently ongoing. There was an informal meeting between BECTU, the Directors' Guild of Great Britain, the Directors' Guild of America and the Directors' Guild of Canada in London on the 7 January 1998. The North American Directors' Guild wish to set up an international alliance of English speaking directors. The NEC is hopeful that an agreement can be reached between BECTU and the Directors' Guild that will allow effective participation in this alliance.


23 The NEC has, on a number of occasions over the last few years, given detailed consideration to the continuing viability of the computer which holds our membership database. It has been recognised by the NEC that the existing membership computer is over sixteen years old, has a difficult user interface and is impossible to integrate effectively with PC applications without the use of computer consultants. The membership computer was, at the time it was installed by the ACTT, at the leading edge of information technology and despite its many disadvantages has been a remarkably stable platform upon which to hold our membership records. It emerged during the course of 1997 that the user interface on the membership computer was not millennium compliant and that considerable sums of money would need to be spent to make it so. The only real return on that money would be to achieve a position whereby we had the same system, albeit it would now be millennium compliant.

24 The NEC at its meeting on the 13 July 1997 considered a report from the General Secretary regarding the membership computer, and agreed that the Finance & General Purposes Committee be authorised to start the formal process necessary to establish what the cost of replacing the existing computer system would be. As part of that process different users of the system would be consulted in order to establish what their needs from the system were and how those needs could best be met.

25 The use of the membership computer has been considered by all of the divisional committees of the union, and those views have been taken into account by the F&GPC.

26 The F&GPC recognised that the union does not employ sufficient in-house expertise to oversee a project of this nature and it therefore decided to appoint a firm of consultants to assist in the selection of a suitable membership database system and to project manage the installation of this system.

27 The F&GPC at its meeting on the 29 November 1997 listened to presentations by representatives of Fisher Technology Limited, Clark Whitehill Consultants and the Electronic Management Unit.

28 The NEC at its meeting on the 14 December 1997 agreed that the F&GPC meeting on the 10 January 1998 should be authorised to select one of the firms of consultants. The F&GPC at its meeting on the 10 January 1998 decided to appoint Fisher Technology Limited as consultants for this project.

29 The replacement of the membership computer is expected to cost approximately £100,000 and the NEC have agreed that this will be financed by raising the required capital from our share portfolio currently valued at £370,000.

30 The NEC at its meeting on the 15 December 1996 agreed to implement what was then the next stage of BECTU's information technology strategy which would involve converting the Apple Macs at head office to IBM compatible PCs. The cost of that stage of the project was approximately £30,000.

31 The NEC devoted some time during 1997 in seeking to ensure the development of a single coherent website for BECTU and considerable progress has been made. BECTU's website address is

32 The NEC has approved major changes to the process by which the union's journal, Stage Screen & Radio, is published, including a considerable investment at head office in desktop publishing equipment to allow more of the work on the journal to be completed in-house.

Proposition 3/98 New technologies [AP7]

That this conference should authorise BECTU head office to take on more new technologies in order to better serve its membership.

Central London Programmes


33 The NEC and the F&GPC devoted a considerable amount of their time during 1997 to considering the union's subscription structure. The NEC at its meeting on the 20 April 1997 concluded that the existing subscription structure was inherently unfair and unsustainable in the long term. It requested the F&GPC to develop a proposal for consideration by the NEC to revise the subscription structure within the union; in doing so they should bear in mind the historical situation and sensitivity between divisions, but should seek to develop a position whereby members should perceive that the subscription they were paying was related to the service they were receiving from the union and not to the division they belonged to.

34 The NEC and the F&GPC consulted with all the divisions of the union in developing the proposition to revise the subscription structure that is to be considered by this conference. The NEC went to very considerable lengths to take on board the different views expressed by the divisions of the union. In the opinion of the NEC this revision is essential to ensure the financial stability of the union. It may be helpful to reproduce the altered text (underlined) of rule 9 as it would appear if the NEC's proposition is carried:

9 Subscriptions

(a) A member, unless otherwise specifically provided elsewhere in these rules or in clause (aa) below, shall pay subscriptions of one per cent of his/her personal pay or salary, or such amount as may be determined by an annual or special conference as provided for in clause (e) below. Personal pay or salary shall be defined for this purpose as [ remainder of clause unaltered]

(aa) The National Executive Committee shall review subscription income as at the end of 1998, and if in its view it is prudent to do so it shall authorise that no member paying subscriptions under clause (a) above shall pay more than £250 per annum (or, if greater, the maximum payable by freelance members by virtue of clause (bb)(iii) below) with effect from such date in 1999 as it shall prescribe.

(b) Until 30 June 1998, freelance members shall pay subscriptions annually, half-annually, quarterly or monthly, by cash, cheque or credit transfer, on the basis of their earnings in the preceding tax year in the industries defined in rule 6(a), subject to a minimum payment of £96 per annum, or with such frequency and in such amount as may be determined by an annual or special conference as provided for in clause (e) below.

(bb) (i) With effect from 1 July 1998, freelance members shall pay subscriptions according to the following scale:

Gross annual earnings Subscriptions
payable monthly
payable annually
up to £15000 £10.00 £120.00
£15001-£20000 £12.50 £160.00
£20001-£25000 £16.66 £200.00
£25001 and over £20.83 £250.00

(ii) Gross annual earnings shall be defined for this purpose as a member's pre-tax earnings in the industries described in rule 6(a) in the preceding tax year.

(iii) All the figures in the scale given in subclause (i) above shall be subject to increase by a percentage figure equal to the annual increase in the General Index of Retail Prices for the month of September 1998, and in each September thereafter, to take effect from each 1 January following.

[clauses (c) to (e) inclusive are unaltered]

(f) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of rule 9, former members of the Film Artistes' Association and members allocated to the Film Artistes' subdivision or branch under rule 31(ll) shall pay subscriptions amounting to half the subscription that would be applicable under clauses (b) or (bb) above.

SOC reminds conference that under rule 9(e) the following proposition (or the substantive proposition if amended) requires a two-thirds majority to be carried validly: the amendments themselves require a simple majority

Proposition 4/98 Subscriptions [AP9]

That this conference approves the following revised subscription rates, submitted in accordance with rule 9(e):

In rule 9(a), after "provided elsewhere in these rules" insert "or in clause (aa) below"

After rule 9(a) insert new rule 9(aa) as follows:

"The National Executive Committee shall review subscription income as at the end of 1998, and if in its view it is prudent to do so it shall authorise that no member paying subscriptions under clause (a) above shall pay more than £250 per annum (or, if greater, the maximum payable by freelance members by virtue of clause (bb)(iii) below) with effect from such date in 1999 as it shall prescribe."

At beginning of rule 9(b) insert "Until 30 June 1998," and delete "half-annually or quarterly" and insert "half-annually, quarterly or monthly"

After rule 9(b) insert new rule 9(bb) as follows:

"(i) With effect from 1 July 1998, freelance members shall pay subscriptions according to the following scale:

Gross annual earnings Subscriptions
payable monthly
payable annually
up to £15000 £10.00 £120.00
£15001-£20000 £12.50 £160.00
£20001-£25000 £16.66 £200.00
£25001 and over £20.83 £250.00

(ii) Gross annual earnings shall be defined for this purpose as a member's pre-tax earnings in the industries described in rule 6(a) in the preceding tax year.

(iii) All the figures in the scale given in subclause (i) above shall be subject to increase by a percentage figure equal to the annual increase in the General Index of Retail Prices for the month of September 1998, and in each September thereafter, to take effect from each 1 January following."

In rule 9(f), after "former members of the Film Artistes' Association" delete all that follows and insert "and members allocated to the Film Artistes' subdivision or branch under rule 31(ll) shall pay subscriptions amounting to half the subscription that would be applicable under clauses (b) or (bb) above."

In rule 10, in subclause (v), delete "one percent" and insert "0.8 of one per cent"

National Executive Committee

Amendment 1:

Delete the amounts of subscriptions payable monthly amend annually and insert:

"monthly annually
£8.33 £100.00
£11.66 £140.00
£15.00 £180.00
£19.16 £230.00"

Northern Freelance

Amendment 2:

In the table of subscriptions payable, delete "Gross annual earnings" and insert "Net relevant earnings before tax"; in the following subclause (ii), delete "Gross annual earnings" and insert "Net relevant earnings before tax"

Northern Freelance

Proposition 5/98 Raising of minimum subscriptions [AP10]

That this conference is alarmed at the proposals to raise the minimum subscription from £92 to £120 annually for those earning less than £15,000 p.a. Conference believes this proposal could exclude thousands of low paid workers from the benefits of BECTU membership, and consequently lead to the weakening of the union and leave those workers unrepresented.

Conference instructs the NEC to oppose any raising of minimum subscriptions and concentrate instead on building membership in those areas of low pay within the industry.


SOC notes that if Proposition 4 is carried, this proposition will fall

Proposition 6/98 Subscription fees [AP11]

That this conference moves that the BECTU subscription fees should, over a period of time, be made more equitable and capped at a figure agreed by conference.

Central London Programmes

35 The NEC at its meeting on the 13 July 1997 considered a recommendation from the BBC Division that there should be an introductory rate of subscription for potential members in the broadcasting divisions for a one year trial period. The NEC agreed that:

(a) there should be a one year trial of an introductory subscription rate of £10 per month for potential recruits in the broadcasting divisions of BECTU, and that individuals recruited as part of this trial should be offered the opportunity of paying their subscriptions by DAS or by direct debit;

(b) those who chose to pay by direct debit should, in addition to completing the direct debit form, be asked to declare their current salary and that they should be advised at the time of recruitment that they will be transferred to the standard BECTU subscription rate at the end of the one year period;

(c) all current members within the pilot area should be advised that the introductory subscription rate is being piloted in the hope that the take-up is good enough to lower the subscription rate for them without reducing the services provided, and in the event that this is not possible, then new recruits will pay the same subscription rate as they would at the end of the one year period.

Proposition 7/98 Recruitment initiatives [AP8]

That this conference recommends that the current special offer on subscriptions for new BBC members should continue but be monitored for continuing effectiveness, and at the same time an ongoing programme of special initiatives should be devised and introduced at an appropriate juncture if it is considered that the current offer has run its course.

Bush House 2


Delete comma and insert full stop after "effectiveness"; delete "and at" and insert "At"; delete all after "juncture" and insert "in all divisions of BECTU."

Commercial West End Theatres

Structure and servicing

36 The National Executive Committee considered at its meeting on the 19 May 1996 restructuring proposals put forward by the General Secretary which, if introduced, would result in the Independent Broadcasting and BBC National Officials of the union working under the supervision of Supervisory Official Gerry Morrissey servicing the union's broadcasting members; the regrading of the union's Field Officers based in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff to National Official level; the appointment of a fifth Regional National Official to service the South West; the establishment of a supervisory official for the Regional Production Division; and the boarding of a Supervisory Official position in the Arts & Entertainment Division.

37 The National Executive Committee decided that there should be the widest possible discussion on the restructuring proposals submitted by the General Secretary. The proposals were circulated to branches and the divisional committees of the union were asked to make their views known.

38 These proposals were considered by two meetings of an inter-divisional committee involving representatives from the Independent Broadcasting Division, Regional Production Division and the BBC Division.

39 The NEC at its meeting on 11 August 1996 agreed the new servicing arrangements but also agreed that consultation would continue with the appropriate lay members in the different divisions of the union during September 1996.

40 Willy Donaghy was appointed Supervisory Official of the Arts & Entertainment Division in September 1996. National Official Roland Johnson was transferred to the Cardiff office to act as the fifth regional official servicing the South West of England. Paul McManus was appointed as the Supervisory Official of the Regional Production Division. The NEC recognised that there was considerable controversy behind the change to the servicing arrangements but believe that they have helped to improve significantly the union's organisational position in Independent Broadcasting.

41 The NEC is increasingly of the view that it is for conference and members to determine what are the appropriate divisions to exist within the union and that it is the NEC's responsibility to ensure that these divisions are serviced in an appropriate manner.

Proposition 8/98 Members' rights [AP4]

That this conference, being the supreme policy-making and governing body of the union, states its firm belief that past custom and practice, and the observance of proper democratic accountability, includes the following rights for BECTU members:

1 the right of members to govern and control their own affairs at branch and divisional level as they see fit, providing they do not contravene the policies set by conference, or exceed the budget allocated to the division by the NEC;

2 the right of members to minute their meetings themselves if they so choose;

3 the right of members to speak freely at their meetings without an official present, if they so choose;

4 the right for officers of a division, or other nominated divisional sub-committees, to meet between divisions to contribute to the running of the division, if the division so wishes, and for the division and its officers to make a full contribution to any relevant debates on issues that concern them;

5 the right to express dissent without fear of victimisation or harassment.

North West Freelance

Proposition 9/98 Divisional budgets [AP5]

That this conference states its firm belief that it is perfectly right and proper for members at the Divisional level to decide their spending priorities for the budget allocated to them by the NEC, and to agree a budget for the year, in co-operation with (but not under instruction by) the relevant official.

Conference believes it is also right and proper that the elected Treasurer, or other nominated Divisional officer/s should have access to the quarterly information necessary to report to the Division on the progress of their budget and to allow adjustments to be made where required to meet the priorities of the Division and stay within budget.

North West Freelance

Benefits to members

42 The NEC agreed at its meeting on the 22 September 1996 to extend to all permanently employed members the personal taxation services that had been run as a pilot for permanently employed members in Scotland.

43 The NEC will continue to offer free public liability insurance for all freelance members of BECTU who pay the appropriate freelance subscription. The cost to the union of providing this service has increased to £22,205.66.


44 BECTU remained affiliated to the following organisations in 1996/1997/1998:

General Fund £

Federation of Entertainment Unions 2,000

Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Republic) 52 (IR£)

(Northern Ireland) 606

Media Entertainment International 28,419

Scottish TUC 1,342

Trades Union Congress 47,139

Political Fund

Action for Southern Africa 125

Amnesty International 127

Arts for Labour 150

British Copyright Council 685

British Film Institute 176

British Screen Advisory Council/Industry Forum 4,600

British Standards Institute 146

Campaign for Freedom of Information 150

Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom 200

City Centre 150

Cuba Solidarity Campaign 50

Gtr. Manchester Immigration Aid Unit 50

Labour Party 24,000

Scottish Labour Party 250

Labour Research Department 541

Mechanics Institute (Labour History Museum) 50

Metier 100

National Campaign for the Arts 211

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign 200

Skillset 1,175

Theatres Advisory Council 420

Theatre Technical Training Services 400

Trade Union CND 150

45 The NEC at its meeting on the 9 March 1997 decided to discontinue its affiliation to SALVO (Scottish Arts Lobby Voice) following a recommendation from the Scottish Area Committee and the Scottish committee of the Federation of Entertainment Unions.

46 The NEC did not complete the affiliation to the Media Workers Against Nazis as the organisation has consistently failed to supply BECTU with a copy of its constitution.

47 The NEC at its meeting on 3 November 1996 decided to affiliate to the National Assembly Against Racism and is satisfied that it is a well-founded organisation with a proper constitution and a democratic framework.

Life, honorary and deceased members

48 The NEC has, during the course of the last year, awarded Life Membership to: Ken Archer, George Boyd (deceased 11 August 1997), Robert Bromley, May Dyer, Harold Farmer, Bryan Hardcastle, Edward Keeper, Harry McFarlane, Tony Osborne, Dennis Page and Mike Walker

49 The NEC is recommending to conference that John Gray, Harry Courcha and Charlie Hamill be awarded Honorary Membership. The NEC is also recommending that a posthumous award of Honorary Membership be given to Sean Brannigan.

50 The union's journal has recorded that the following members and/or employees of BECTU, or its founder unions have, during the course of the last two years, passed away: Hugh Attwooll, Leslie Baker, John Ball, Frankie Batt, Dewi Bebb, Roy Beck, Paul Bernard, Frank Binney, Peter Boita, George Boyd, Jim Bradley, Sean Brannigan, Percy Britten, Archie Brownlie, Dick Bush, John Campbell, Eddie Carlin, Sid Cole, Cyril Collick, Patsy Crudden-Morton, Frank Cvitanovich, Dixie Dale, Pat Danes, Cedric Dawe, Terence Donovan, Bob Douglas, Alan Downes, Roy Evans, Michael Eve, Ken Fairbairn, Daniel Farson, David Gill, David Ginsberg, Abel Goodman, Laurie Greenwood, Bert Haanstra, Peter Harman, George Harrison-Marks, Peggy Heath, David Holmes, Katie Hosgood, Nigel Howard, Wes Hyde, George Irons, Maurice Jackson, Doug James, Peter James, Frank Janes, Dave Kealing, Jean Kelly, Alf Kerntiff, Eddie Knight, Edmund Konkel, Peter Lacey, Gerald Landau, Dick Lorimore, Bill McConville, Nick Middleton, Paul Mills, Jimmy Milne, Bill Mitchell, David Morphet, Michael Murchan, Bill North, Paddy O'Gorman, Eddie Orton, Ian Owles, Fred Palmer, Dave Peart, Maurice Rootes, John Shearman, Martin Shirley, John Shorer, Philip Sidey, Tony Snell, Basil Somner, John Sutton, William Symon, Peter Taylor, Richard Taylor, William Taylor, Roger Tomlinson, Charles van de Goor, Bill Vicker, Georges Villermet, Odran Walsh, Chic Waterson, Douglas Webb, Joe West, Jim Wills, Jane Wood and Peter Woodward.

Copyright and contracts consultancies

51 The NEC at its meeting on the 9 March 1997 agreed to appoint Geoffrey Adams to act as a copyright consultant for BECTU. The cost of this consultancy does not exceed £300 per month.

52 The union has maintained a high level of activity in the area of copyright. Specifically the Union has initiated exploratory discussions and joint activity with a number of those bodies established to collect revenue for authorial and copyright owners in various occupational areas covered by BECTU, including the Designers and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), the Directors' and Producers' Rights Society (DPRS) and the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

53 This activity has ranged from major public campaigning to ensure the recognition and payment of authorial rights for directors to advice on retrospective claims for authorial rights under the legislation introduced in 1996 to systematic investigation of the rights position for members in the design and arts occupations.

54 The Copyright Committee remains a vigorous body representing the relevant areas of the union and has contributed evidence and comment to government and the European Union on a number of initiatives connected with authorial and copyright developments. The union is represented on the British Copyright Council, has been represented at major national and international copyright events and is currently engaged in revising the union's copyright advice booklet for members.

55 As rights issues become increasingly important in earnings and therefore in contract negotiations, particularly for freelance members, the resources devoted to servicing the needs of our members through individual advice and collective representation have increased considerably.

56 The NEC at its meeting on the 13 July 1997 agreed to appoint David Gideon Thomson to act as a contract consultant for BECTU. The cost of this consultancy is a sum of not more than £300 per month.

Inter-divisional collective bargaining

57 The NEC at its meeting on the 15 December 1996 considered a report from the General Secretary regarding the TAC (Welsh language producers) negotiations, and agreed that the General Secretary would convene a meeting between representatives of the London and Regional Production Divisions to see if it was possible to resolve the differences between the two divisions regarding the TAC negotiations.

58 The NEC again considered the matter at its meeting on the 26 January 1997. In coming to a conclusion the NEC was mindful of the fact that members in Wales were working to a 1991 agreement, and that it was clearly not tenable for them to continue to do so. The NEC accepted the General Secretary's recommendation that the Welsh members be balloted on the TAC agreement and that if the ballot resulted in acceptance of the agreement, which it did, then the NEC should allow the agreement to be concluded. The NEC in accepting this recommendation was conscious that one of the inevitable consequences of its decision was to create a position whereby it would be faced with a demand from London members to move to a different arrangement regarding their pay and conditions of service, and that it will be extremely difficult to resist such demands.

59 The General Secretary reported to the NEC's meeting on the 20 April 1997 that there were fundamental differences existing between the union and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) regarding the interpretation of the PACT agreement, but that there were differences between the two freelance divisions as to how to progress this matter. The NEC authorised the General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary to have informal discussions with PACT to see if it was possible to resolve the differences of interpretation to the agreement. The Deputy General Secretary had a number of meetings with PACT between April and November 1997 when a further report was made to the NEC in which the General Secretary indicated that it had not been possible to resolve the differences of interpretation between BECTU and PACT, nor had it been possible to resolve the differences on the way in which the matter should be progressed between the London and the Regional Production Divisions. The NEC accepted the recommendation from the General Secretary that the union should refer to binding arbitration, as was permitted under the terms of the agreement, the difference of interpretation between BECTU and PACT on the PACT agreement.


60 BECTU was represented at the European General Assembly of MEI (Media Entertainment International), which was held in Brussels in September 1996, by the following NEC members: Peter Coggon, David Randles, Mark David-Gray, Bob Caswell, Helene Bevan, Peter Cox and by the General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary.

61 BECTU has continued to play an active part in the affairs of MEI, both at European level and at a world level.

62 In addition to specific activity undertaken through our international organisation, MEI, BECTU has continued to convene and service a broad group of UK media organisations active within the European Union on key film and broadcasting issues. Members of the group include affiliates of the Federation of Entertainment Unions, the Directors' Guild and the employers' organisation, PACT.

63 The group's work is immensely assisted by the commitment and involvement of MEP Carole Tongue and colleagues in the European Parliament, and by MEI's Brussels-based secretariat.

64 The key 1997 campaign success was the addition of a Public Service Broadcasting protocol to the European Treaty during the June Inter-Governmental Conference. The protocol establishes the right of governments to recognise the unique role of public broadcasters in maintaining diversity, quality and high levels of employment and investment in European programming by modifying the application of Europe's competition policies. This historic gain carries forward the earlier and successful BECTU-led UK campaign to maintain the current Broadcasting Directive's framework for sustaining significant levels of original European production against the enormous power of the American majors in the world audio-visual market.

65 BECTU's European Group is currently opposing further European initiatives to deregulate broadcasting as the European debate on convergence develops, is lobbying for the creation of additional funding mechanisms for European film-makers, and is active on a number of other key issues.

66 The NEC at its meeting on the 19 March 1997 agreed that three members of the Laboratories Division should be authorised to form a delegation to Rome which took place in May 1997.

67 BECTU's international political activity is now key to the future of our audio-visual sector and our role is widely acknowledged.

68 However, the future of MEI as an independent trade union international body is in serious doubt, and the NEC of BECTU, at its meeting in December 1997, agreed to a proposal from the Secretariat of MEI that it should open discussions with other international bodies with a view to achieving a satisfactory amalgamation that protected MEI's ability to continue European and international campaigns on creative and audio-visual issues.

British Screen Advisory Council

69 The British Screen Advisory Council is an all-industry body that was set up by the Wilson government twenty-two years ago. BSAC debates and considers issues of relevance to the UK and European film industry. BSAC readily makes submissions to government on a wide range of issues and sponsors conferences on issues such as copyright and convergence regulation. BSAC has played a leading role in bringing about the European Audio-Visual Conference that is to be held in April 1998 during the period of the British Presidency of the European Commission. BECTU has made a significant contribution to the agenda to this conference. BECTU is represented on BSAC by the General Secretary, who is also a member of the Executive Committee of BSAC.

BECTU's staff

70 The NEC was unable to agree to increase the rates of pay for employees of the union and the 1995/1996 rates of pay prevailed until the 1 January 1998, at which point the NEC agreed to increase the rates of pay for all employees by 7%. The union saved £50,000 on its salaries bill during 1997 as a result of keeping the salaries at their 1995/1996 level during 1997, and although a pay increase was due on the 1 October 1997 it was agreed that the increase should not be paid until the 1 January 1998 in order to keep the overhead costs as low as practically possible.

71 The NEC decided to amalgamate the two staff pension schemes that had been in existence since the time of the amalgamation of ACTT and BETA, and to introduce a single retirement age of 60 for all employees during 1997. The current Trustees of the BECTU Staff Retirement Scheme are Andy Love (NEC), Wyn Lowes (NEC), Luke Crawley (member elected trustee), Janice Turner (member elected trustee), and Roger Croxton (independent professional trustee appointed by the NEC).

72 The following members of staff have left BECTU's employment since the last annual conference: Judith Blakeman, Vincent Feiner, Camilla Mason, Norman McGadie and Frances Burt.

73 National Official Paul McLaughlin has joined the staff of BECTU since the last annual conference.

Proposition 10 Training officer [AP12]

That this conference instructs the NEC to expedite the appointment of a qualified fulltime Training Officer at head office.



Delete "expedite the appointment of" and insert "appoint"

Commercial West End Theatres

Check-off (deduction-at-source)

74 BECTU was, during 1997, required to carry out again the check-off exercise asking all members who pay their subscriptions by deductions at source to reaffirm their willingness for the arrangement to continue for a further three years. The election of a Labour government on the 1 May 1997 made no real difference to the requirement to complete this exercise as it was not possible to repeal the legislation by August 1997. The 1997 check-off campaign was a complete success from BECTU's point of view.

Trades Union Congress

75 The TUC are now holding at least one meeting per year to which the smaller specialist unions are invited in order to try and improve the dialogue between those unions and the TUC. The first of these meetings happened in December 1996 and BECTU was represented by the General Secretary and the President. The second meeting took place in January 1997 and unfortunately BECTU was, in common with other FEU unions, unable to be present as there were a number of important meetings taking place on the same day with government ministers.

76 BECTU's delegation to the 1997 TUC Congress were Roy Lockett, Tudor Gates, Jack Amos, Turlough MacDaid, Helene Bevan and Annabel Dunbar. BECTU submitted two motions. The first called upon the TUC to support the now European-wide campaign in favour of public service broadcasting, and the second called upon the TUC to join in the campaign being conducted by BECTU to seek to ensure that self-employed workers were covered by the Working Time Directive. BECTU also raised at the TUC Congress the question of Medium Density Fibreboard. A verbal supplementary report will be given by the Deputy General Secretary.

Proposition 11/98 Health and safety [AP24]

That this conference congratulates the magnificent campaign by BECTU to reduce the high levels of formaldehyde and dust produced from Medium Density Fibreboard. If this and other actions combating hazardous substances at work are to be truly successful, we call on the NEC to endorse the following:

1 a campaign for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations to be observed in every workplace;

2 the funding of training of workers in COSHH by employers;

3 the Health and Safety Executive to be properly funded to enable it to carry out its functions as the enforcing agency;

4 the current health and safety legislation to be changed to allow for the right of full-time union organisers to act as union safety representatives in all workplaces where we have membership;

5 the union to improve its resources aimed at health and safety;

6 a Toxic Reduction Programme in our industry supported by manufacturers and suppliers;

7 a health surveillance programme funded by the industry to carry out medical checkups in the workplace.

Set Crafts


In item 4, after "full-time union organisers" insert "and where appropriate lay members", and after "membership" insert "in accordance with the rights given to Equity and the Musicians' Union under regulation 8 of the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations"

National Executive Committee

77 The NEC has supported the TUC Respect Festival in 1996 and 1997. It has made a financial donation to both these events and members of the NEC have been present at both these events.

78 The NEC sought at its meeting on the 26 January 1997 to establish if it would be possible for BECTU to have a single view determined by the NEC on how the Working Time Directive should be interpreted, and concluded that it should be the responsibility of divisional committees to determine on an industrial basis how the Working Time Directive should be interpreted in their areas. What the NEC did decide, however, was that BECTU should use every opportunity to campaign nationally, particularly through the TUC and Labour Party, to ensure that self-employed workers were not excluded from the provisions of the European legislation.

Proposition 12/98 Excessive working hours [AP27]

That this conference instructs the incoming NEC to fight vigorously against the detrimental effect of excessive working hours and furthermore to reinforce the employers' health and safety responsibilities, to minimise the risks which could result from current working practices.

Film Artistes

Proposition 13/98 Health and safety [AP28]

That this conference notes that increasing pressures, particularly long working hours, are seriously threatening the health and safety of our members. Conference therefore instructs the NEC to develop effective methods for enforcing the relevant sections of agreements between BECTU and employers.

South West Freelance

SOC recommends the branch to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 12

Proposition 14/98 Working hours [AP29]

That this conference is alarmed at the high level of working hours in the freelance sector and the resulting impact on our members' health and safety. Conference therefore welcomes the Working Time Directive but is concerned that the government may have excluded many workers across the freelance production sector. We request that the NEC supports the following:

1 lobbies the government to include all workers whatever way they may pay tax under this Directive;

2 conference also recognises that due to the short term nature of employment of freelances a payment of holiday credits will be required to compensate for paid leave under the Directive;

3 any derogation under the Directive must not exceed a 60 hour working week including prep and wrap.

Set Crafts


Amend semicolon at end of item 2 to full stop, and delete item 3 in its entirety.

National Executive Committee


Proposition 15/98 Working hours [AP30]

That this conference calls upon the NEC to support and extend our campaign on the issue of reducing the number of hours worked on all types of production, curbing the culture of excessive hours in our industry and encouraging job creation as an alternative.

In order to ensure that the campaign is as effective as possible, conference calls on the NEC to ensure:

1 that adequate resources are made available for publicity;

2 that the union lobbies on this issue through all the relevant channels including governmental, parliamentary, trade union and European bodies;

3 that the maximum pressure is exerted on all employers;

4 that the union draws attention to the need for the Health and Safety Executive to be properly resourced to enable it to police our industry.


Federation of Entertainment Unions

79 BECTU has continued to play an active role in the Federation of Entertainment Unions. The Federation meets every eight weeks. The FEU is becoming an increasingly cohesive and effective body and now holds regular meetings with the Director General of the BBC, the Chief Executive of the ITC, the Head of the ITV Network Centre, and the Chief Executive of Channel 5. The FEU also has a good dialogue with the government team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It has had meetings with Ian McCartney MP at the Department of Trade and Industry on a range of issues, and with the Arts Council of England on a range of Lottery related issues. The FEU have also established a European Campaigning Group which includes members of the FEU and others.

The arts

80 The Visual Artists branch of BECTU, with the active support of the NEC, have been leading the national campaign to maintain and expand free entry to art galleries and museums. Members of the Visual Artists branch have undertaken magnificent work in collecting petitions from members of the public going to art galleries and museums, have organised a meeting at the House of Lords, which was addressed by Mark Fisher MP when Labour was still in opposition and at which Mark Fisher pledged the Labour Party's support for the principle of free entry to art galleries and museums. The campaign has been joined by members of the House of Lords, members of the House of Commons, the National Campaign for the Arts and the unions representing workers in museums and art galleries, and has received huge support from the national press. The Chancellor made welcome concessions in his March 1998 budget, but the objective has still not entirely been secured.

Proposition 16/98 Free entry to museums and galleries [AP23]

That this conference notes the successes of the BECTU National Visual Artists branch initiated campaign for free entry to all publicly funded museums, galleries, exhibitions and arts centres.

Conference therefore calls on the NEC to

1 support and play a leading rôle in Free For All, if formed, a collaborative group of involved campaigners for free entry;

2 move a free entry resolution through the 1998 TUC in consultation with the NVA branch, that takes account of the current political and cultural situation;

3 demand of government, both as a trade union and as part of Free For All, to honour its pre-election pledge of freeing up our core collections by 2000, and formulating cultural policy that calls upon museum trustees to revoke charges where they exist and prevent new ones. Also to increase grant-in-aid to museums so that jobs are protected as charges are revoked.

Finally, conference condemns plans for £700m of public expenditure for an impermanent millennium dome in comparison to the £45m needed for free entry.

National Visual Artists

SOC has rejected as excessive argument and existing policy the following text after "exhibitions and art centres."

"The NVA branch petition has had a strong impact on government as well as initiating collaboration between other involved trade unions, artists, arts organisations, MPs, peers and individuals. To date no other London museums or galleries have introduced charges, though there are setbacks in Merseyside and Wales.

This conference congratulates all members of the NVA branch who have collected signatures for the petition and resolves to deepen this extremely popular campaign within the labour movement."


Delete from "2 move a free entry resolution..." to "...cultural situation" inclusive, and renumber item 3 as item 2

National Executive Committee

81 The NEC viewed with dismay the closure of the Royal Opera House without the provision being secured for a central alternative venue for the companies to perform in during the rebuilding programme. There is very little in the Parliamentary Select Committee's report issued in November 1997 with which the NEC would disagree.

Labour Party

82 BECTU was represented at the 1997 Labour Party conference, the first Labour Party conference of the Labour Party in government for 18 years, by the President, General Secretary and Wyn Lowes. BECTU submitted a similar motion to the Labour Party conference on the Working Time Directive as that submitted to the TUC.

83 Prior to the general election on the 1 May 1997 BECTU had made a number of donations from its political fund to the Labour Party General Election Campaign fund. The total of these donations amounted to £6,000.

84 The NEC at its meeting on the 26 January 1997 decided to support the TUC's campaign on job security and employment rights in the run-up to the general election, and made a donation of £500 towards the campaign as well as carrying reports of campaign activities in Stage Screen & Radio.

85 The election of a Labour government on the 1 May 1997 has profoundly affected the union's relationship with government. For the previous 18 years the Conservative administration had shown almost no interest in the views of the workforce of the industries in which we organise. The union has, since the 1 May 1997, had numerous meetings with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and with the officials of the DCMS on a wide range of issues. The union has also been in regular contact with the Department of Trade and Industry on issues of interest to BECTU members.

86 The Labour government have, since the 1 May last year, taken a number of important initiatives that affect BECTU and its members. They have repealed the check-off renewal legislation that proved to be such a drain on our resources. They have signed up to the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty. The Prime Minister, at the Amsterdam Summit, signed up to the Treaty on Public Service Broadcasting. In his first budget the Chancellor announced tax write-offs for the film industry, and the Secretary of State set up a Film Policy Review to examine the whole of the United Kingdom's policy towards film production. The report of the Review Group, entitled A Bigger Picture, was published on 25 March 1998. The General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary represented BECTU on important sub-committees of this Review.

Proposition 17/98 Minimum wage [AP48]

That this conference welcomes the Labour government's commitment to the introduction of a minimum wage. However, conference views with concern discussion of the possible exemption of under-25-year-olds from the minimum wage, the possible regional character of the proposals, and the low figures being touted by the government.

Conference instructs the NEC to campaign to ensure that the minimum wage is set as high as possible and to submit resolutions to this effect to both the TUC and Labour Party conferences.

Scenic Ops


In final paragraph insert full stop after "as high as possible" and delete the remainder.

National Executive Committee

Proposition 18/98 Minimum wage [AP49]

That this conference welcomes the Labour government's commitment to the introduction of the minimum wage. Conference views with concern, however, discussion of the possible exemption of under-25-year-olds from the minimum wage as well as the possible regional character of the proposals and the low figures currently being touted by the government.

Conference instructs the NEC to campaign for a minimum wage set at no less than half male median earnings to be applicable to all workers who draw a wage under that figure. This instruction should further be taken to both the TUC and Labour Party conference.

IT Services

SOC recommends the branch to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 17


In the second paragraph, delete the last sentence.

National Executive Committee

Proposition 19/98 Minimum wage [AP50]

That this conference welcomes the Labour government's commitment to the introduction of the minimum wage. Conference views with concern, however, discussion of the possible exemption of under-25-year-olds from the minimum wage, the possible regional character of the proposals and the low figures currently being touted by the government.

Conference instructs the NEC to campaign for a minimum wage set at no less than half male mean earnings to be applicable to all workers who draw a wage under that figure. This instruction should further be taken to both the TUC and Labour Party conference.


SOC recommends the branch to reconsider the word "mean" as opposed to "median", and to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 17


In the second paragraph, delete the last sentence.

National Executive Committee

Proposition 20/98 Minimum wage [AP51]

That this conference encourage the government's election manifesto pledge to introduce minimum wage legislation and also to lobby the government against introducing any exclusion or get-out clauses into minimum wage legislation.

New Entrants/Graduates

SOC recommends the branch to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 17

Producers/Directors initiatives

87 The Producers and Directors branch have, with the NEC's support, launched a number of important initiatives during the last 18 months. Two events were held at BAFTA in the form of open days that allowed members access to the most up-to-date digital technology. These events were supported by Sony. The second of these events was designed for women and ran in partnership with Women in Film and Television.

88 It was also an initiative of the Producers and Directors section that launched the Alliance for the Protection of Copyright. The purpose of the Alliance is to seek to bring to an end what the industry regards as institutionalised copyright theft. The Alliance is made up of the following bodies: BECTU, PACT, Women in Film and Television, the Directors' Guild of Great Britain, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, the Society of Authors, National Union of Journalists and the Musicians' Union. Meetings with all of the broadcasting organisations took place in the first quarter of 1998.

BECTU History Project

89 The History Project has continued to flourish during the last two years. The History Project is not integrated into any of BECTU's formal structures, although the minutes of its meetings are considered by the NEC. It is a value-added activity that is of enormous benefit to BECTU. The History Project has the most comprehensive audio history of the United Kingdom film industry and has, during the last two years, been seeking to convert this to a digital format which would be available through the Internet. The NEC has agreed to the submission of a Lottery application for a feasibility study, and this is currently being considered by the Arts Council. The History Project has done a considerable amount of work in conjunction with the manufacturer Sony and were very grateful to Sony to receive from them during 1997 the gift of a digital camera.

Training and education

90 In addition to the work of the Training Committee, BECTU is involved in a whole range of training initiatives. The Deputy General Secretary is a member of the boards of Film and Television Freelance Training (FT2) and of the national training organisations Metier and Skillset, and the General Secretary is a Governor of the National Film and Television School. The election of the Labour government in May 1997 has compelled all organisations to take education and training much more seriously.

Proposition 21/98 Student fees [AP16]

That this conference believes the government's decision to charge students for further/higher education will limit access to those with the ability to pay. Conference instructs the NEC not to give support to such a policy and to campaign to reverse the decision.

Scenic Ops

Employment services

91 The Crews Employment Service was established by the ACTT during the period in which it enjoyed a closed shop in independent television and in large sections of the film industry. Since the loss of the closed shop Crews has continued to provide a service to members but has been of more limited value. The NEC recognise that employment services are a key area of interest for BECTU. It has established an Employment Services sub-committee. It has taken a decision to close the Crews Employment Service but to develop other services that will be of more general benefit to all members of BECTU. A verbal supplementary report will be given.

Proposition 22/98 Available-for-work list [AP6]

That this conference believes the union's employment service, Crews, should be replaced by a register of all unemployed members, and that the register should be freely available to employers and branch officers, so that companies can ascertain quickly and efficiently who is available for work at any one time.

Conference also believes that unemployed members, particularly freelance members, should be encouraged to register and that this service should be widely publicised so that employers would be aware of the register.




92 Work has continued on monitoring government policy and European policy issues, including the provision of briefings and responses to official consultations.

93 Examples of issues covered in the recent period include:-

- BECTU's response to the previous government's Green Paper on Industrial Action and Trade Unions

- BECTU's response to the previous government's proposals on implementing the Working Time Directive

- Briefings and responses to the DTI and DCMS (DNH) on Multiplex Licensing and Conditional Access (in relation to Digital Terrestrial Television)

- Briefings for MPs and MEPs on issues including Fiscal Incentives for the Film Industry and the European Programming Quota

- BECTU policy paper on a Scottish Parliament and its Implications for Broadcasting (a further paper on broadcasting and Scottish and Welsh devolution is being presented to this conference as a supplementary report)

- Survey of C3 Ownership and Company Results

- Draft proposals for the Labour government on Trade Union Recognition for Freelances and Safety Representatives for Freelances

- Draft Conference motions for TUC and Labour Party

- BECTU's response to the European Commission White Paper on Excluded Sectors from the Working Time Directive

- BECTU's response to the White Paper consultation on 'The People's Lottery'

- BECTU's submission to the government's Film Policy Review

- BECTU's response to the Consultation Paper on Deduction of Trade Union Subscriptions at Source

- Comments on other issues including the Lord Chancellor's Civil Justice Reforms and the Government Pensions Review.

94 Attendance at outside bodies on behalf of BECTU included meetings of the TUC Check-Off Contact Group, the TUC Group for representatives of European Industry Federations and the AETC/Metier Research Advisory Group.

95 Research and information work on collective bargaining issues has continued in response to requests for information on pay and conditions, employment protection rights, company finances and economic indicators. Annual research reports were produced on the film industry, independent broadcasting, commercial radio and the laboratories. Numerous requests for company searches were responded to using the on-line access to Companies House.

Legal Services

96 BECTU's legal service, provided in conjunction with our solicitors, Thompsons, has again won over £1m for members in damages and settlements during the year. Hundreds of cases have been processed, ranging from preliminary advice to full High Court proceedings.

97 The range of cases included personal injuries, employment protection issues (eg unfair dismissal, statements of terms and conditions, redundancy), equality (race and sex discrimination, equal pay), transfers of undertakings, breach of contract (especially monies owed) and injuries in road accidents. Thompsons are now able to advise on pensions legal cases - eg. mis-selling of personal pensions. The service is completely free to all members in good standing.

Proposition 23/98 Compensation at Industrial Tribunals [AP18]

That this conference instructs the NEC to campaign for higher levels of compensation for unfair loss of employment at Industrial Tribunals, on the basis that current levels do not adequately reflect the distress caused and fail to protect employee rights.

Central London Radio Engineering

98 In addition, BECTU in conjunction with Thompsons, has produced a Small Claims Guide for any members seeking to recover debts through the County Court Small Claims Procedure.

Member services

99 In addition to the legal service, information on a range of other services to members can be obtained from BECTU Research Department. These include advice and assistance on tax, national insurance, pensions, copyright and financial matters. In June 1996, in the light of the new Pensions Act, BECTU commissioned a training package for union member pension fund trustees from Jacques Martin Unity/Aries Training Systems. This was made available to branches during 1997 free of charge and copyright-free in disk and/or booklet form. Other recent developments have included the following.


100 Extensive negotiations with the Inland Revenue including meetings at Somerset House were conducted on the issue of tax status and particularly the establishment of a single merged list of Schedule D grades.

101 With the assistance of David Huyton of Moore Stephens, separate discussions were held with Customs and Excise concluding in a revised Guidance Note on VAT liability for members when working for foreign companies or on location abroad.

102 A submission to the TUC was produced on the Taxation of Employed and Self-Employed Workers.

National Insurance

103 Correspondence and discussion with the Contributions Agency continues on issues such as the NI status of set crafts construction workers.

Proposition 24/98 Pensions [AP43]

That this conference believes that all workers should have the opportunity of an adequate pension in retirement. In recognition of this, it calls on the NEC to establish a scheme where an employer will jointly contribute to a pension for all in work. Due to the transient nature of many of our members in work, this pension should have the option of portability.

Set Crafts

Proposition 25/98 Freelance pension scheme [AP44]

That this conference notes the government's continuing trend of reducing state pensions and therefore calls upon the NEC to make every effort to restore a functioning Freelance Pension Scheme.

Assistant Directors & Location

Proposition 26/98 Pensions [AP45]

That this conference instructs the NEC to investigate the possibility of providing pension provisions for members, and if necessary opening discussions with such bodies as the TUC to offer such a facility.


Proposition 27/98 State pension [AP46]

That this conference should by every means at its disposal seek to help normalise the state pension to the retirement age (full time employment) of 60, and that the link between the state pension and average full time earnings be fully restored forthwith.

IT Services

Insurance and Financial Services

104 The insurance policies available to members through the arrangement with Minet (now incorporated in Aon Risk Services) have proved successful, especially the free public liability cover (now extended to £3 million). The range of policies available has been extended to include small business cover and, subject to further discussion, professional indemnity. A new mortgage service geared to the needs of BECTU members has also been arranged through Minet/Aon.

105 Recognising the need many members will face in coping with the Inland Revenue's new self-assessment approach, BECTU has negotiated an arrangement with accountants Clark Whitehill for discounted access to the SimpliTax scheme, offering professional advice and assistance on self assessment and other accountancy services.

Political and International Committee

106 The Political and International Committee, as a sub-committee of the NEC, has continued to meet to consider issues relating to the Labour Party and TUC, to respond to requests for donations, affiliations and support for candidates in elections and to hear reports on developments in relation to MEI and ICTU/SIPTU.

Parliamentary Committee

107 BECTU's Parliamentary Committee has met on an occasional basis during Parliamentary sessions. Between meetings our Parliamentary contacts have provided rapid access to Parliamentary publications (eg. Bills, Hansard), information and advice, and assistance with Parliamentary lobbies and meetings (including, for example, a meeting in the House on the campaign for Free Entry to Museums and Galleries).

Proposition 28/98 Anti-trade union legislation [AP38]

That this conference instructs the NEC to take the following motion to the TUC and Labour Party conferences: "This conference demands the repeal of all Tory anti- trade union legislation during this parliament."

Scenic Ops

Proposition 29/98 Anti-trade union laws [AP39]

That this conference instructs the NEC to take the following motion to the TUC and Labour Party conferences: "That this conference demands the repeal of the Tory anti-trade union legislation, during this parliament."


SOC recommends the branch to considering withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 28

Proposition 30/98 Anti-trade union laws [AP40]

That this conference instructs the NEC to take the following motion to the TUC and Labour Party conference: "That this conference demands the repeal of the 1979 Tory anti-trade union laws during this parliament."

IT Services

SOC recommends the branch to reconsider the reference to "1979" and to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 28

Proposition 31/98 Repeal of trade union legislation [AP41]

That this conference should request that BECTU approaches the Labour Party with the intention of seeking a firm commitment to revoke or favourably amend the draconian anti-trade union legislation implemented by the previous administration, and that if such a commitment is not forthcoming, then the level of BECTU's affiliation to the Labour Party should be reviewed.

Bush House 2

Proposition 32/98 Repeal of anti-union laws [AP42]

That this conference pledges to support the workers listed below, all of whom have fallen victim to the Tory anti-union laws:

  • the Magnet Kitchen workers, sacked during a "lawful" dispute with the management and now in the second year of their strike;
  • the Liverpool Dockers, now in the third year of dispute, sacked for refusing to cross a picket line mounted by fellow workmates;
  • the Critchley workers, sacked after going on strike when the management enforced redundancies in breach of a written agreement - the union (CWU) was subsequently derecognised;
  • and the Hillingdon Hospital workers, also in the third year of their strike, originally against the company Pall Mall who sacked them after they refused to take a cut to their wages by £40 a week.

If the anti-union laws were repealed all these strikes would be won. In order to ensure the reinstatement of these workers the union will mount a campaign to repeal the anti-union laws enacted over the last two decades. The campaign will continue until the government has repealed the anti-union laws.

South Wales Freelance


108 2,793 applications for membership were processed in 1996 and 3,786 in 1997, and 225 members of the Student Link-up scheme were processed.

109 The proportion of members paying by deduction from salary has fallen from 50% in 1995 to 46% in 1997. At the same time the proportion of members paying by standing order has risen from 30% to 34%. Sending regular reminder letters has resulted in a reduction in the number of members lapsed due to non payment.

110 The Crews Employment Service processed 800 requests for technicians in 1996 and in 1997. The number of members registered on Crews averaged 250 in 1996, 200 in 1997. The Employment Office received 130 Registered for Work calls in 1996 and 80 in 1997. The vacancy list continues to be popular and during 1996 and 1997 was circulated to approximately 750 members and several organisations each week. As already stated, employment services are currently under review by the Finance and General Purpose Committee.


111 The union's journal Stage Screen & Radio has continued to work alongside divisions, officials and members in supporting their campaigns and initiatives with detailed coverage. Alongside the BBC Division cover stories were run, for example, on the closure of the BBC Design department (The death of excellence), BBC Arabic Television (The gamble that failed) and BBC Archives (The destruction of heritage), the bleak headlines reflecting what BBC members have been through since the last BECTU conference.

112 Overridden Promises (July/August 1997) looked at the failure of ITV companies to fulfil the commitments they made when bidding for their franchises. In response to comments at the last BECTU conference, radio has received more coverage, within the BBC and Independent Broadcasting sections of the magazine and as a cover story in the February 1997 edition (Radio freelancing - too cheap to be cheerful), which was followed up in later editions.

113 Other cover stories took broadcasting as a whole. A year before the referendum on Scottish devolution the magazine described the current structure of broadcasting in Scotland and outlined the options if Scottish devolution went ahead. The report received widespread coverage in the Scottish national press.

114 The issue of digital terrestrial broadcasting was addressed over several months. It began by describing how it works, and as the proposals firmed up, the March 1997 edition looked at what was being offered under the new system. The journal also ran a five-page special report in the July/August 1996 issue for our growing ranks of student and graduate members on how to get into the media industry.

115 Lottery funding and the resulting job losses within the Arts & Entertainment Division membership were the focus of many reports. Other long-running coverage concerned the negotiations with the RSC and the Royal Opera House - the union's criticisms of the ROH were vindicated by the Commons Committee report and the subsequent resignations from the board in December 1997.

116 Freelance issues received substantial coverage, including negotiations and problems with the PACT agreement; the outgoing government's initiative of Lottery funding for film; the Labour government's subsequent moves; and health and safety, such as the new Special Effects basic safety training scheme.

117 A report in June 1997 on the future of RaceTech (which provides integrity services in the form of televising horse racing for the judges and stewards) covered the Levy Board's demands for a huge £3-million cut in its subsidy and their criticism of duplication of TV services (SIS televises races for the bookmakers). The journal presented a view of the impact on the industry, and whose interests it would or would not serve, if RaceTech went under and raised alternatives to closure. The report was used by parts of the industry to campaign to save RaceTech and later in the year RaceTech management informed BECTU that the article had played a major role in saving the company from demise - RaceTech was taken over by the Race Course Association.

118 One perennial problem concerning freelance members is that of not being paid, or suffering other poor treatment, by the companies which have employed them. The journal has run several articles exposing these companies. One company had a very litigious track record and so the Editor raised the proposed article with the National Executive Committee, who courageously agreed that it should be printed, for which the committee is thanked. Following advice from the lawyers and Queens Council the article appeared. Months later it was found that three parties who had not been paid used the article as part of their evidence before the court. Two have since been paid.

119 The Department of Trade and Industry has invited the Editor to suggest ways of amending company law to close loopholes which have been highlighted by the articles over the last several years.

120 Some issues raised by the freelance divisions encompassed other areas of the union such as working hours and the campaign on MDF, both of which ran in several editions of the magazine. Other issues were of wider significance, such as the pre- and post- General Election coverage, articles on European Monetary Union, the new government's proposals on electoral reform, and international reports.


121 The union's equality agenda has been dominated by concerns of freelance and casual workers, and by the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1996 which extends anti-discrimination laws to cover disability in employment. More recently, issues of racism and xenophobia in the media have been highlighted, especially at election time. Designated as European Year Against Racism, the second half of 1997 has provided some opportunities to profile issues concerning race discrimination at work, and BECTU has been involved in some of these initiatives regionally, nationally and at European level.

122 During 1996 and 1997, detailed work on equality policies was undertaken by BECTU in negotiations with the independent producers' alliance, PACT. This resulted in a wide-ranging agreement on equal opportunities for freelances and independent producers, forming part of the PACT/BECTU Freelance Production Agreement. The policy, and the detailed guidelines accompanying it, was published jointly by PACT and BECTU in June 1997, in a pamphlet entitled Equality Matters. This was widely distributed and well received both inside and outside the industry. PACT and BECTU have set up a Joint Equality Working Party to develop good practice in key areas of policy implementation, and to monitor and review progress.

123 Following these initiatives, the union has joined with PACT and the Broadcasters' Disability Network (part of the Employers' Forum on Disability) in developing proposals for an industry-wide Disability Database to facilitate and promote the employment of disabled people in arts, media and entertainment. This move has been welcomed, including by Ministers, and funding is being sought to support the project.

124 BECTU was again well represented at the TUC Women's and Black Members' Conferences, and at the TUC's regular Disability Forum meetings, over the last two years. The union was vocal in opposing the use of broadcasters' airtime for the transmission of racist and xenophobic views during elections and is seeking a change in the legislation to prevent transmission of racist material on the airwaves in the form of party election broadcasts in future because of their discriminatory impact on black and ethnic minority communities.

Proposition 33/98 Media Workers Against the Nazis [AP52]

That this conference congratulates the NEC on their support for Media Workers Against the Nazis during the 1997 parliamentary elections and their success in stopping transmission by Channel 4 of the racist broadcast by the British National Party. Conference views with concern, however, the confusion at the BBC about the union's position and therefore instructs the NEC to issue the following to members in the event of national or local government elections: "No member of BECTU should assist in the production or transmission of any broadcast prepared by or on behalf of an organisation that promotes racist or fascist ideas. BECTU will defend any member who refuses to undertake such work."

IT Services

Proposition 34/98 Media Workers Against the Nazis [AP53]

That this conference congratulates the NEC on their support for Media Workers Against the Nazis during the 1997 parliamentary elections and their success in stopping transmission by Channel 4 of the racist broadcast by the British National Party. Conference views with concern, however, the confusion at the BBC about the union's position and therefore instructs the NEC to issue the following instructions to members in the event of national or local government elections: "No member of BECTU should assist in the production or transmission of any broadcast prepared by or on behalf of an organisation that promotes racist or fascist ideas. BECTU will defend any member who refuses to undertake such work."


SOC recommends the branch to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 33

125 Advice and assistance has also been given to negotiators, equality representatives and individuals in the course of collective bargaining and representation in individual cases. Key problems continue around questions of race discrimination and harassment, equal pay, disability discrimination, maternity rights and unfair selection procedures. Substantial financial settlements have been secured for members in compensation for unfair discrimination at work, but there is concern that many cases do not come to light because members are fearful of victimisation.

126 Priorities for the future lie in getting more effective equality policies and procedures in place, and in challenging discriminatory barriers and attitudes. Across the union, detailed statistical information is being sought (at the time of writing) about the position of black workers in the companies we deal with, and about any monitoring procedures in place. This information will be published in 1998. Greater attention will be paid in future to monitoring employment practices, and also to auditing pay structures. Here the advice and guidance issued by the Commission for Racial Equality and by the Equal Opportunities Commission (for example, in its recent Code of Practice on Equal Pay) will be used.

127 The Black Members' Subcommittee and the General Equality Committee have stressed the importance of involving more women and black and disabled members in union activities. Recommendations have been made to the National Executive Committee and others on this, and on ways of making union meetings, services and information more accessible, particularly to disabled members. This advice has been developed in line with TUC guidelines in consultation with equality activists.

128 Other events organised by the Equality Office have included a Women's Digital Technology Day (organised in 1997 in conjunction with Women in Film and Television and generously sponsored by Sony) and an accompanying training event; briefings for union officials and representatives on the new Disability Discrimination Act; a meeting of disabled members to mark International Disabled Peoples' Day in 1997. Disabled members also attended a major international seminar in the Netherlands in 1996 on Media and Disability at which they contributed to the development of a European policy on disability and the media.

129 Despite a change of government, and a far more accessible and union-friendly administration, much remains to be done to promote equal opportunities in our industry. Areas of low pay, casual and temporary work remain key areas to be tackled in the fight for fair and equal treatment at work. Where progress has been made in developing policies, work now has to be done on the ground to make sure those policies are both understood and implemented. This means commitment and the will to change at all levels.

Proposition 35/98 Welfare state [AP17]

That this conference notes the government's plans:

1 to cut lone parent benefit for single parents;

2 to tax disability living allowance;

3 to force unemployed people off the dole by introducing American style workfare schemes.

Conference believes that the government should tax the richest 20% in Britain to pay for welfare.

Conference resolves:

1 to campaign against these "reforms" of the welfare state;

2 to support and publicise any protest against such measures by disabled, single parent or unemployed groups;

3 to send this resolution to the 1998 TUC and Labour conferences.


SOC has rejected as excessive argument the following text after "Conference believes:"

"1 that we did not vote for those policies;

2 our labour government was elected to stop Tory attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society, not to continue them;

3 we need real jobs for unemployed people, not "workfare";



Amend semicolon after "unemployed groups" to full stop and delete "3 to send this resolution to the 1998 TUC and Labour conferences."

National Executive Committee


130 The last two years have been extremely busy on the health and safety front in BECTU, with a sea change in the political climate (resulting from the 1997 General Election) providing conditions for progress.

131 BECTU's National Health and Safety Committee has met regularly. It has made submissions to the Health and Safety Commission's Consultative Documents on various subjects, including the impact of changing patterns of employment on health and safety, new draft regulations on work equipment, woodworking and lifting equipment, and working time. This period has also seen the introduction of new measures affecting young people at work, employee consultation on health and safety, and a range of other areas of health and safety. The union's objective has been to get agreement and implementation of industry-wide standards and best practice wherever possible in the interests of better health and safety for all.

132 BECTU has been represented on the Health and Safety Executive's Joint Advisory Committee for Broadcasting and the Performing Arts and is represented on the newly formed Film Industry Working Party. BECTU made a substantial contribution to the HSE's recent publication on Camera Operations on Location. BECTU has also been represented on the BSI Sub-Committee developing new British Standards for Lifting Equipment in Performing Arts, and in contributing to a new HSE draft Code of Practice relating to diving at work.

Proposition 36/98 Health and safety legislation [AP33]

That this conference instructs the NEC to mount a campaign for the introduction of health and safety legislation covering work in extreme temperatures, and, in the light of the excessively high and dangerous working temperatures experienced last summer on productions, which establishes a maximum working temperature; this campaign should be pursued through all relevant bodies.

Special Effects

133 The union's Health and Safety Representatives' training courses have been well attended. They have now been further developed and include regular courses for freelance production workers. These are in addition to health and safety courses run by TUC Regional Education Services and the joint BECTU/TUC Stage 1 Health and Safety Representatives' courses. 1998 sees the development of a range of short courses for BECTU Health and Safety reps, as well as general courses. Training will continue to be a priority for the Health and Safety Office.

134 Work has continued on up-dating agreements and health and safety policies in line with new legislation, and in providing advice and support to negotiators and safety reps where possible. BECTU's National Health and Safety Committee has also developed a model policy on Bullying at Work. The union is also assisting the TUC and the ETUC in developing policies to promote health and safety for working women and has contributed to European Commission guidance on risk assessment for pregnant women at work. Agreement has been reached between PACT and BECTU on health and safety risk assessments during and after pregnancy as part of the PACT/BECTU freelance agreement.

135 Sadly, one of the founder members of the NHSC, Doug James, died in August 1997 following an industrial accident. He has been sorely missed, but his work - around issues of special concern to cinema workers (including sole working and violence and bullying at work) - will continue.

136 One of the main tasks in the next period is to meet the challenge of improving safety standards with rapidly changing technology and casualisation. Doug James' untimely death is a tragic reminder of the need to put the issue of preventing accidents and ill health high up on the agenda, not only in the union but also in the industry at large.


137 Major changes have occurred in the field of training since BECTU's 1996 conference. Not least, of course, has been the election of a Labour government in May 1997, after eighteen years of Conservative policies resulting in casualisation of jobs, de-skilling of workers, and "training" measures in fact devised to manipulate unemployment statistics. The Sector Challenge initiative, the use of Lottery funds though NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) to train talented individuals and stimulate training in new technologies, the commitment to training written into the work of the Film Policy Review Group, and the immediate relevance of the Welfare to Work programme for the audio-visual industries, are all examples of the Labour government putting encouragement and money into training measures from which BECTU members, specifically, will benefit.

138 At the same time, the relaunch of the Arts & Entertainment Training Council as Metier, and the "graduation" of Skillset to National Training Organisation status, have opened up new possibilities for maximising the use of new funding. The transformation of the training landscape has been bewildering at times, and it has to be said that because of problems with information-gathering and co-ordination, it has occasionally been difficult for the BECTU Training Committee to keep up with the pace of change. Nevertheless, government ministers are not afraid to be seen consulting with BECTU and the Federation of Entertainment Unions; the national training bodies take it as read that the unions must participate all the way up to board level; even employers, which under the previous government were antipathetic to the notion of training as a collective bargaining issue, have bitten their tongues and now speak the New Labour language of social partnership. By the same token, BECTU is taking up the TUC's lead in seeing the Investors in People award as a kitemark for good employer policy and practice. The voluntary code of practice adopted by independent producers on the use of placements and trainee labour, and PACT's agreement to a training policy statement, have been welcome advances.

Proposition 37/98 Work experience [AP15]

That this conference notes the introduction of the PACT voluntary code of conduct for work experience.

Conference instructs the NEC to support the Graduates branch in campaigning against disregard of the code of conduct which frequently leads to employers expecting new entrants to work for indefinite periods on little or no pay and without proper supervision or insurance cover.

New Entrants/Graduates


In second paragraph, delete "against disregard of" and insert "for adherence to", and after "code of conduct which" insert "when disregarded"

Film & Tape Editing

139 For the reasons given above, the BECTU Training Committee has been obliged to observe, rather than influence, most of these developments. Collective bargaining on training issues has followed in the wake of political change, rather than been driven by union training policy as such. There has been particular concern at the growth of multiskilling. The Committee has had to see the abandonment of several key training objectives which the union has cherished for many years, including:

- vocational training provision and qualifications directly linked to grading, promotion and remuneration (seen as inflexible and unresponsive to technological and structural changes in the industry);

- a statutory training levy, to underpin the voluntary contributions by employers to the Freelance Training Fund (no longer Labour Party policy); and

- a recognised accreditation scheme for media training courses (Skillset research has suggested that delivery of accredited Vocational Qualifications through colleges would be more widely supported and assisted by public funds).

Proposition 38/98 Industry training levy [AP13]

That this conference urges the NEC to devise and campaign for an industry-wide training levy, based on the model currently operating in the British construction industry, which will channel part of the huge profits made from television and film production into developing and training current and future generations of workers.

Scenic Ops

Proposition 39/98 National Vocational Qualifications [AP14]

That this conference believes that in view of

  • the increase in NVQs for our industry
  • the insistence of some employers that members in certain grades should hold NVQs,
  • and the high cost of obtaining an NVQ,

BECTU should investigate ways of funding members' NVQs including the introduction of an industry levy for this purpose.


140 Meanwhile, strategic training developments have proceeded at a pace and in directions not easily foreseen by BECTU. For example, the introduction (through the Conservative government's take-up of the European Social Funds available) of Modern Apprenticeships was a largely unexpected return (after the same government's abolition of Industry Training Boards) to structured provision for trainees. With the interest of TECs in the audio-visual industries, Modern Apprenticeships arrived first in Set Crafts and will shortly appear in a range of other skills; they are planned for the Arts & Entertainment sector as well. However, the vagaries of European funding criteria have imposed, equally unexpectedly, planning crises on those bodies, notably FT2, charged with delivering the product.

141 A number of meetings of the Training Committee in 1997 proved to be inquorate. The Committee has repeatedly urged fuller dialogue between it and the union's six divisional committees, especially where those divisions also have divisional training committees, and closer liaison between the growing number of union officials, lay and full-time, with training remits. Lines of communication on training matters between members, officials, branches, divisional training committees, divisional committees, and the national Training Committee, need to be clarified and improved.

142 Over the past three years BECTU's involvement in industry training bodies nationally and regionally has expanded: there are union representatives, lay and full-time, on the boards and key committees of Skillset, Metier, FT2 (Film and Television Freelance Training), and the national/regional training consortia. The union was instrumental in setting up a working party on training needs in West End theatres with support from the Society of London Theatres, Metier, the Department for Education and Employment and the Focus Central London TEC. The BECTU Training Committee is grateful that those bodies appreciate and welcome union involvement. The Committee held a successful Training Event at the Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton in June 1996, designed to co-ordinate the role of these lay and full-time union officials with training remits, and to exchange views and experience. In September 1997, a second, equally successful, Training Event was held at the same venue, this time focusing on the successes and shortcomings of the Skillset S/NVQ structure so far. As well as lay and full-time BECTU training representatives, speakers from Skillset, FT2, Skillnet South West, the Midlands Media Training Consortium and Scottish Screen Training also contributed. The 1998 Event was originally planned to cover training provision and qualifications in the Arts & Entertainment sector, but the imminent review of AETC/Metier standards may mean a different rubric is selected.

143 The Training Committee has taken keen interest in efforts to revive BECTU's organisation in the Educational Technology sector. This was once a thriving division in ACTT, but fell into decline in the early 1990s. A dual membership agreement originally made in 1970 between ACTT and the Association of University Teachers has been revised, and took effect in August 1997. A similar agreement has been proposed to the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, but at the time of writing no response has been received.


TMA theatres

144 The agreement with the Theatrical Management Association sets minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. We have been able to recruit around the agreement within which pay increases have been index linked and conditions of employment are due to remain unchanged for a further two years.

SOLT theatres

145 BECTU has a collective agreement with the Society of London Theatres (SOLT) which determines rates of pay and conditions of employment for staff employed in West End theatres. BECTU recently agreed a three-year pay and conditions deal which gives staff improved conditions as well as pay increases in excess of inflation for each of the three years. A joint Working Party has been established with SOLT to develop a training strategy based upon a training needs survey of our membership.

National houses

146 Unlike the National Theatre (RNT), the last two years have been troubled times for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the Royal Opera House (ROH) and English National Opera (ENO).

147 The decision by the RSC not to use the Barbican theatre all year round resulted in nearly all BECTU members being made redundant.

148 The closure of the ROH resulted in scores of BECTU members being made redundant.

149 The proposed plan to force the ENO and ROH to share the refurbished Covent Garden Theatre would inevitably lead to a reduction in activity of both companies and further staff redundancies. This would be another example of Lottery financed developments making BECTU members redundant.

Proposition 40/98 Per cent for art [AP22]

That this conference supports the principle of a per cent for art scheme being operated as a requirement of public building proposals granted Lottery funding.

National Visual Artists

Odeon Cinemas

150 1997 saw the de-recognition of BECTU for the purposes of collective bargaining for Odeon Managerial Grades of staff. The managers, after being seduced by the company, decided to set up an "independent" staff committee.

Proposition 41/98 Front-of-house recognition [AP1]

That this conference gives its serious backing for full recognition for front-of-house staff in Odeon Cinemas, so they may enjoy the same privileges as technical staff, i.e. negotiating their own pay and conditions.

Odeon Newcastle

Virgin Cinemas

151 After purchasing the MGM group of cinemas, Virgin sold off most of their non-multiplex sites to ABC Cinemas. Since then ABC have closed almost half of the cinemas with inevitable redundancies.


152 The main areas of activity within the bingo industry have involved the transfer of some clubs to NB Leisure and the attempt by Gala Clubs to illegally change contracts of employment.

Arts Centres

153 The Arts Centres Sub-divisional Committee was eventually established and it is hoped the committee will be the focal point in co-ordinating policy and initiating recruitment activity.

Proposition 42/98 Cultural amenities [AP21]

That this conference, by means of a campaign mounted from within and by BECTU, exerts pressure on government to change the law so as to create a new category of property or premises (to be called, say, "cultural amenities") to which special prices, rents and rates apply and which most practitioners engaged in the visual fine arts, and/or most persons engaged in or with non-commercial theatres or cinemas, can realistically be expected to afford for use as their studios, workshops or work spaces.

National Visual Artists



154 Towards the end of 1996 BBC Resources (the BBC's largest directorate, which employs 7,000 staff ) announced that it was their intention to ask the Board of Governors to agree that the directorate should be made a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC. If this decision was approved then they would need the further approval of the Secretary of State. Management's reasons for incorporation were that the amount of work coming their way from BBC producers was reducing and therefore they needed to do more work externally, and if they remained part of the BBC they could be accused of using public funds for commercial purposes and this would have been a breach of the Treaty of Rome. Secondly, they argued that BBC Resources Ltd could borrow money for digital development, an opportunity they claimed would not be available to them as part of the BBC due to the restrictions placed upon the Corporation by the then Department of National Heritage. BECTU campaigned vigorously against Resources' proposals on the grounds that they currently traded externally and had not been challenged on the grounds of unfair trading. BECTU is firmly of the view that if Resources become incorporated it will be only the first step towards full privatisation and the ultimate dismantling of the BBC. Resources management's proposals failed to get approved by the Board of Governors due to the general election. However the Governors had given general approval. Soon after the general election, at the Amsterdam Summit, a protocol agreement was reached which allows public service broadcasting to trade externally without being in breach of the Treaty of Rome. Despite this BBC Resources have pushed ahead with incorporation. However at the time of writing this report the Secretary of State has not given approval. Should he do so, the members of all BBC trade unions will be consulted on a campaign of resistance, including possible industrial action.

Sell-off of BBC Transmission

155 Prior to the end of 1995 the Conservative government announced that it was privatising BBC Transmission and that it would be sold in two units, (i) Home Service Transmission and (ii) World Service Transmission. Despite lobbying MPs and members of the House of Lords the union was not able to stop the privatisation proposals being approved by Parliament. However in the course of lobbying significant concessions were made on the issue of pensions. After several months of intense negotiations with the BBC and the shortlisted bidders agreement was reached that staff would transfer to the successful bidders under TUPE (the Transfer of Undertakings regulations) but the arrangements for pensions would guarantee that all current staff would join a pension scheme no less favourable than the one they enjoyed in the BBC. The two successful bidders were Castle Transmission International (CTI) for the Home Service and Merlin Communications International for the World Service.

Proposition 43/98 Transfer of Undertakings Regulations [AP47]

That this conference seeks a speedy revision of the TUPE regulations to include a redundancy option for those to be transferred, which might be taken by the incumbents together with any attendant procedures relevant to their present conditions of service in employment.

IT Services

Restructuring of BBC Directorates

156 The Director General John Birt announced a major restructuring of the BBC which took effect from 1 April 1997. The restructuring meant the separation of Production and Commissioning. It also meant that World Service News would now be part of the overall BBC News Directorate and the World Service would lose its status as a directorate. Production would form a directorate which included all production in London and all production in the Regions which was undertaken for national broadcast, i.e. Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol. BBC Broadcast was to be the commissioning arm of the BBC but also included News in the Regions and Production in National Regional Centres, ie Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A major campaign was run against the restructuring, especially as it affected World Service. It concluded with some minor concessions being made by the BBC. The new structure is now in place and BECTU's initial concern is that the BBC is being parcelled up for sell-off on a directorate-by-directorate basis until only a publisher/broadcaster remains.

Proposition 44/98 BBC internal market [AP35]

That this conference welcomes the recent moves in the National Health Service to dismantle the internal market, and instructs the NEC to pressurise the government, the BBC Governors and the Board of Management to review the "Producer Choice" policy, and to dismantle the bureaucratic, wasteful and damaging internal market at the BBC.

London Post-Production & Graphic Design

Proposition 45/98 BBC internal market [AP36]

That this conference, now that the Labour government has begun the process of dismantling the internal market within the NHS, instructs the NEC to commit BECTU to a vigorous campaign to end the internal market within the BBC.

Glasgow 1

SOC recommends the branch to consider withdrawing this proposition in favour of Proposition 44

Proposition 46/98 BBC internal market [AP37]

That this conference opposes the BBC's internal market, otherwise known as "Producer Choice", and the inevitable cuts and chaos it brings. We should also condemn the breaking up of the BBC by

  • the privatisation of departments
  • the setting-up of wholly or part owned subsidiaries
  • the contracting-out of ancillary services.

We instruct the NEC to oppose all attempts by the BBC to continue with such policies, using measures at their disposal, including industrial action.

IT Services


In final sentence after "using" insert "all", and delete ", including industrial action"

National Executive Committee


Company mergers

157 Over the last two years we have seen the Independent Television Network divide itself into four major companies: Granada, Carlton, Scottish Media Group and United. Granada, which initially was Manchester and Liverpool, now have London Weekend TV, Yorkshire TV and Tyne Tees TV; Carlton have in addition to their London operation Central TV in Birmingham and Nottingham and West Country; Scottish Media Group own Scottish TV and Grampian TV; United now own Meridian TV, Anglia and HTV, Cardiff and Bristol. The union has raised its concerns with the Secretary of State and the ITC that the regional identities of television companies are being lost through the mergers and we are looking forward to this issue being addressed by the Secretary of State in the forthcoming review.

Proposition 47/98 Press and media monopoly [AP19]

That this conference opposes the 1996 Broadcasting Act which weakened the curbs on cross-media ownership and is concerned at the Labour Party's support for this, both in opposition and now in government. This legislation has aided large monopolies like News International to gain even greater control. In particular, conference sees the increased monopoly control of delivery and distribution as a threat to many small and diverse titles, from the Morning Star to the Catholic Herald.

Conference believes that a Commission should be established to investigate these problems and make proposals for restrictions of cross-ownership and the rights of distribution and display, and introduce legislation based on the best practice of other countries.

Scenic Ops


158 In early 1996 NTL tabled a set of proposals called Focal Point which changed the working practices for the majority of our members. The proposals did not mean any redundancies or any changes to conditions of employment. However they did mean that staff would in many cases be virtually working from home. At the time of writing the report the union was still in negotiation with the company on the detail of their proposals.

Digital TV

159 The consortium of Carlton Communication and Granada was awarded the three main commercial multiplexes by the ITC in June 1997. At the insistence of the ITC, however, BSkyB agreed to withdraw its involvement in the venture, though it will continue to be its primary programme supplier. Digital terrestrial TV will enable viewers to receive approximately thirty channels broadcast from conventional transmitters to ordinary domestic areas. It is hoped that the winning consortium will make greater use of the studio facilities provided by many of the ITV companies.


160 The Labs Division continues to function well although falling attendance at monthly Divisional meetings has caused concern. There continues to be a huge volume of work about and most of the labs have been extremely busy. With staff cut back to a bare minimum the only way production targets are met in some labs is by working excessive amounts of overtime.

161 Annual pay negotiations resulted in settlements for members averaging between 3% and 5%. Three laboratories, Technicolor, CFS and Film Labs North have successfully retained their Cost of Living agreements. Rank Film Laboratories announced a possible 180 redundancies in November 1996 and a major restructuring of the Denham plant including an end to 16mm film processing. They also announced the sale of the Rank Lab in Leeds to Hendersons. In the event and following months of hard negotiations 76 people lost their jobs. 40.5 were volunteers, 35.5 were compulsory. Those who were made compulsory redundant received an additional lump sum of £10,000.

162 The Rank Labs in Leeds - now Film Labs North - is thriving with 11 workers and a new shop stewards' committee. Having always had the plant at Denham to rely on, they have done a sterling job in building a new shop, winning recognition from their new employers, paying by DAS and maintaining 100% trade union density - a long established tradition in the Labs.

163 Despite formal de-recognition by Reuters we still have 30 members, and our Convenor still sits on all the major negotiating bodies with the NUJ. We organised and achieved recognition at Mike Frasers, an important negative cutting house.

164 There were also redundancies at Decca - with new technology and restructuring cited as the reason. The union was able to reduce the numbers made redundant and ensure those "going out of the door" got the best redundancy deal possible.

165 The Monopolies and Mergers Commission finally allowed the take over of Metrocolor lab last September by Technicolor, West Drayton. BECTU now has 95 members at Metrocolor. In its evidence to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, Technicolor undertook to train and bring the pay and conditions of the Metrocolor work force up to the level of those at Technicolor. They also promised recognition of BECTU. After a threat by BECTU to report Technicolor to the DTI and a ballot overwhelmingly in favour of recognition from the work force, this was finally restored at Metrocolor after ten years on 2 February 1998.

166 Rank Video remains the stronghold of video cassette duplication - with a strong vibrant shop. Potential exists for recruitment amongst other video cassette duplication plants where pay and conditions of work are appalling in comparison with Rank.

167 The National Film and Television Archive at Berkhampstead has received £13 million of Lottery monies and is creating between 50 and 60 new jobs which were due to come on stream in April 1998.

168 With the agreement of the NEC the Labs Division met with the Italian union, FIS-CISL in October 1997 in Rome. The meetings proved extremely useful to both parties.


169 The London Production Division continues to recruit and exceed the financial targets set for it. Production levels are up. If we exclude 1996 the figures for "UK linked" films produced last year and the level of investment were at their highest for 16 years. Independent Production for broadcast is in a similarly healthy state. However, revaluation of the ITV franchises and increased competition from low budget channels gives some cause for concern. Overall though there are grounds for optimism with £426 million of Arts Council money promised and the introduction of tax breaks for films with a budget of up to £15 million.

170 Close monitoring of PACT productions indicates that the Agreement is not being observed most of the time and that PACT is either unable or unwilling to police it. The interpretation of the Agreement was formally placed in dispute in October 1996. Since then further negotiations have taken place. The NEC has finally agreed that the dispute over interpretation can be referred to binding arbitration. This decision is welcomed by the Division.

Proposition 48/98 Unpaid layoffs [AP34]

That this conference, whilst recognising that the NEC is still investigating the problems of budgets and scheduling in broadcasting that were first raised by the Film & Tape Editing branch at the 1996 conference, would like to draw the attention of the Research Officer and the NEC to the increasing habit by the employers of including unpaid layoffs within the schedules that they have agreed with the commissioning editors.

This habit, which began with the Christmas holiday period, has now spread throughout the year. It occurs in both independent and in-house productions, and has the same effect on freelance and staff workers.

We call upon conference to back this motion unanimously in order to help BECTU to put a stop to this pernicious habit.

Film & Tape Editing

171 The three year commercials agreement continues to work well, and to its credit is largely observed and policed by the employers' organisation, the AFVPA. The agreement is due for re-negotiation in July 1999. However, members who work in the commercial sector have found their employment situation seriously affected by the Equity dispute.

172 Excessive working hours remain a major problem in the industry and it is not at all clear yet whether the Working Time Directive will have any impact on freelance working. We are running a high profile press campaign on hours and taking a much harder line with companies intending to, or working excessive hours.

Proposition 49/98 Crewing [AP26]

That this annual conference believes all productions should have a full complement of standby crew on all "shoots" to revamp sets. This personnel to consist of carpenter, stagehand, painter and - when needed - a rigger.


SOC has rejected as excessive argument the following text after "when needed - a rigger."

"They are [the] only personnel on set qualified and skilled and therefore insured under company policy to carry out these tasks, and the practice of using non-skilled personnel such as runners, production staff, props and electricians as uninsured and uninsurable "helping hands" must stop before there is a serious injury or worse still - a fatality."


After "all productions" insert "where appropriate"

Writers & Researchers

Proposition 50-51/98 (composited by SOC) Working hours (AP31, AP32)

That this conference condemns the continuing practice of working excessive hours on film/TV productions, despite the fact that this is known to be a threat to health and safety through stress, fatigue which increases the risk of driving accidents, and increased risk of heart disease.

In particular this conference condemns:

1 contracts based on "camera hours" which ignore the fact that the Assistant Directors, Hair & Make-up, and Costume & Wardrobe departments must often start work long before the camera starts turning, and finish long after;

2 regular six-day working, which is particularly disruptive of family and personal life.

The conference therefore calls on the NEC to initiate a campaign on working hours in 1998-9, based on the following principles:

1 individual schedules to be no more than 12 hours in any one day;

2 a minimum 10-hour break between calls, after travel to and from base;

3 a return to the five-day week as the norm in film/TV productions.

4 an increase in staffing levels in the Hair & Make-up department, which can be financed from savings on artistes' overtime.

This conference also calls on the NEC to collate and/or sponsor research into the deleterious effects of excessive working hours, and appeals to responsible employers to work with the union in setting standards for a more civilised and sustainable working environment.

Assistant Directors & Location

Media Make-up & Hair

SOC note: Principle 4 did not appear in the original proposition from Assistant Directors & Location, and the first phrase of the final paragraph did not appear in the original proposition from Media Make-up & Hair

173 Rebuilding our presence among TV freelances is still a top priority. The fragmented nature of much TV production means we are approaching the task from a number of directions. We have identified the studios who most regularly house TV productions and we have allocated these studios which include Capital, Fountain, 3 Mills, Elstree and the London Studios to particular officials who prioritise them for production/studio visits. We have initiated an OBs network to provide a focus for camera, sound, engineering and rigger driver members working regularly on outside broadcasts, and are considering a News Network to act as a focus for freelance members who work regularly in news gathering. We are working closely with colleagues in Independent Broadcasting on the basis that by rebuilding our staff organisation in ITV companies we also create a much more favourable environment for rebuilding our freelance presence. One of our officials has been responsible for the staff shops at LWT and ITN for the past year and will continue this work for LWT which is probably the largest production centre in London with hundreds of freelances passing through the London Studios on a regular basis.

174 More and more freelances are working for the BBC, which still refuses to negotiate with us on pay and conditions for freelances. The hours worked and conditions for freelances when engaged by the BBC are amongst the worst in the industry. We need an agreement and this must be one of our priorities next year.

175 We mounted a joint campaign last year with the NUJ in Radio against the BBC rights department's decision to remove repeat fees and deny moral rights for freelances. A minimum rate card has been circulated to all Independent Radio producer members of Radio (the Radio Independents Organisation).

176 We have taken a number of significant health and safety initiatives during the past year. Having developed good relations with HSE Inspectors in the Luton and East Grinstead offices, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now playing a more pro-active role in the industry especially in the film studios which has resulted in some high profile prosecutions of both studios and production companies.

Proposition 52/98 Health and safety enforcement [AP25]

That this conference endorses the requirement that extraction units be fitted to all rip saws, chop saws, "De-Walts" and routers when sets are being constructed and erected to eliminate carcinogenic dust and particles. This also applies to paint dust when spraying. Spray paint should only be applied before normal work hours (8-5) or after the main construction crew have departed.


177 We initiated a series of meetings between LPD officials and health and safety "professionals" (i.e. full time health and safety advisers, consultants and managers) in 1996. This has led to the formation of a professional association of health and safety advisers with whom we expect to have a good working relationship. We have produced a series of health and safety advice cards for members in particular grades or facing particular working conditions. As part of our regular process of contact with Film/TV Productions, we now ask for evidence of risk assessments. We have developed a health and safety awareness and assessment training scheme in partnership with the National Short Course Training Programme which is based at the National Film and Television School and is supported by Skillset. Several courses have been developed and run by the Division for production managers, location managers and assistant directors in collaboration with the Health and Safety Officer.

178 The construction sub-division campaigned for safe alternatives to Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) and ran a high profile campaign taken up by the TUC and the national press which led to a constructive meeting with the Wood Panel Industries Federation. Construction Design and Management Regulations are being applied in the industry. Pressure from BECTU has been a key factor in bringing this about. Following pressure from BECTU the national HSE has set up a working party to look specifically at the film studios.

179 The joint industry special effects grading scheme now involves the AFVPA and LWT on the employers' side and continues to operate successfully. Testing and training within the pyrotechnic strand of the scheme is being developed and tests should be up and running within the next twelve months.

180 The Animation Sub-division terminated its agreement with PACT following PACT's derisory pay offer in 1996. A national rate card has been agreed with BECTU recommended rates. The long awaited UK Animation Directory has now been published. Discussions have begun with Skillset on the employment trends and training needs of Animation. A quarterly newsletter is published for BECTU animators.

Proposition 53/98 Specific funding for animation sector [AP20]

That this conference calls for a strategy and campaign to address the issue of specific funding for animated film, a strategy that takes a view to ensuring a pool of funding to support increased animated film production with decent rates of pay for BECTU members seeking work.


SOC has rejected as excessive argument the following text after "seeking work."

"This strategy will underpin our forthcoming campaign against footage-rates which we believe inevitably contribute to the undermining of wages and inadvertently contribute to justifications of low budgets. This would ensure full use of members' skills and experience and alleviate pressure to work for low wages by reason of inadequate budgets."

181 The Film Artistes Sub-division has continued to grow. The membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new Agreement with PACT which was implemented in February 1997. As with other PACT Agreements, enforcement remains a problem. Talks have begun with Metier (formerly the Arts and Entertainment Training Council) who have agreed to assist with the development of NVQs. Shop steward training courses are held regularly. A code of conduct has been jointly agreed between BECTU and the Background Agents.

182 MediaTrack has produced the first BECTU CD-ROM directory which will be marketed worldwide and will, we hope, enhance our members' employment prospects.


Recruitment and retention

183 The Regional Production Division has shown a continuous and steady increase in both membership and income. This is directly due to having a full complement of regionally based officials with the ability and accessibility to target lapsed and non-members in their areas. There has also been constant increase in productions through increased Lottery monies available. This in turn has led to an increase in recruitment not just in new geographical areas like the Isle of Man or the Highlands of Scotland but also in new technology areas like multimedia, satellite and cable television.

184 Having specific responsibilities in Independent Broadcasting has allowed RPD officials to work more closely than ever with Broadcasting officials to the benefit of both staff and freelances and again has aided recruitment and retention in both areas.


185 RPD officials and members have worked hard with their colleagues in LPD to police and enforce the PACT freelance production agreement. While problems persist with implementation of and adherence to the agreement RPD is working hard with its members to ensure that employers comply with the obligations they have signed up for. An increasing number of members are following RPD advice to consult with Regional officials before agreeing to contracts. With the demise of the PACT/BECTU animation schedule a new LPD/RPD Animation Ratecard has been introduced by LPD/RPD and a new production agreement has been reached in Wales with TAC, the Welsh employers' association.

Specialist duties

186 With a full complement of officials sharing the load in areas like equality, health and safety and training there have been positive proactive advances made in these areas. As with the PACT agreement there has been positive collaboration between officials and members in LPD and RPD in these areas which has greatly helped in securing a ground-breaking PACT/BECTU Equality Policy, a range of new initiatives with the Health and Safety Executive and a hugely increased and focused involvement in training issues. Relationships with Regional Training Consortia and Skillset have developed enormously in a positive manner.


187 The Midlands Area Committee meets four times a year, alternating between venues in the East and West Midlands. Low attendances at meetings can be attributed in part to the difficulty for members in obtaining time off work for this Committee. The Area Committee is affiliated to the West Midlands Labour Party and the Central Region Labour Party. It sends two delegates to the Midlands TUC Regional Council, three to the Midlands TUC women's Committee and two to the Midlands TUC Training Committee. The Area Committee has actively participated in the Midlands TUC Domestic Violence Forum held in October 1997 in Derby and is working with the Midlands TUC's Bargaining for Skills project towards the organisation of Training Days for branches.


188 There were no meetings of the Northern Area Committee.


189 The Scottish Area Committee continues to operate vibrantly and is heavily involved in promoting BECTU policies through its involvement with the Scottish FEU at the Scottish Trades Union Congress as well as all the political parties. The Area Committee has sent its delegates to successive STUC and Scottish Labour Party Conferences with successful motions ranging from issues on cross-media ownership, a statutory freelance training levy and a review of theatre funding in Scotland. In the run-up to the introduction of a Scottish Parliament the Area Committee remains committed to continuing dialogue with all relevant bodies to ensure BECTU's concerns and views continue to be heard at every level.

190 It also remains an essential forum for exchanging views and ideas on recruitment as well as political issues.


191 The South West Area Committee continues to meet four times per year at venues in Bristol and Exeter. During 1997 representatives have participated in a range of activities including the South West TUC Annual General Meeting, the Plymouth TUC May Day Festival and TUC Disabilities Forum. The Race Equality committee of the South West TUC, the Respect in the West festival as well as the Celtic Film Festival which had a healthy BECTU presence and profile. The committee has disseminated information in the area on a range of issues and has made concerted attempts to increase membership across divisions in the area. Its efforts in providing support for Exeter and Devon Arts Centre are worthy of particular note as are the three successful events sponsored by branches in the area.


192 The Area Committee for Wales has continued to meet during the course of 1997. Following many years of submissions to the Wales TUC Conference this year the perseverance of the Area Committee in two particular spheres were extremely successful. The long held view of the Area Committee that the industry in Wales would be better served by a form of devolved government for Wales, with the attendant accountability, will be tested by the result of the Referendum in Wales which was to have an Assembly. BECTU's motion on the BBC (along with a motion from the Writers' Guild) has led to the issues of broadcasting policy in Wales being discussed at a specific series of meetings established by the Wales TUC under the title of the Broadcasting Working Group.


193 1997 saw the realisation of two strategic objectives of the Area Committee in Ireland being met. The first was the successful conclusion of negotiations with SIPTU on the agreement by which the right of BECTU members to work in the Irish Republic is recognised and accepted by SIPTU. The actual terms of this agreement were approved by the NEC at their meeting on 9 November 1997. The second objective realised was the attendance of a BECTU delegation as full affiliate members of the ICTU at its biennial conference in Belfast. These two events will undoubtedly assist BECTU in providing an effective service to its members in Ireland and will facilitate to a greater degree the right of all BECTU members to protection when working in the industry there.

Last updated 19 May 1998