NEC Report to BECTU 2008 Conference (preliminary version)

[This preliminary version has been replaced by the final version which is part of the Conference agenda.

The paragraphs in the National Executive Committee (NEC) Report below will be taken as read at Conference unless notice of intended debate is given by Branches using the form enclosed with Conference Document 3 (2007-08) dated 7 February 2008. The closing date for notice is 1200 on 20 March 2008.]

The National Executive Committee

1 The National Executive Committee (NEC) has, since the close on 28 April of the union’s 2007 annual conference, met on the following dates: in 2007, on 13 May, 24 June, 5 August, 16 September, 28 October and 9 December; in 2008 20 January, 2 March, 13 April, 8 May.

2 The divisional members of the NEC elected with effect from 21 May 2006 were: Jack Amos, Christine Bond, Suresh Chawla, Mike Corfield, Peter Cox, Michael Dick, Pete Harding/Angie Scurr (job share), Tony Lennon (President), Andy Love, Willis McBriar, Douglas McGill, Norma Ndebele, Jane Perry, Winston Phillips, Lawrence Van Reiss, Robert Scott, David Smith, and John Wild. In March 2007 Andy Love left the BBC's employment and accordingly resigned from the NEC; he was replaced with effect from 1 April 2007 by the runner-up in the 2006 election, Alastair Hendrie. On 22 October 2007 Norma Ndebele resigned from the NEC and with effect from 7 January 2008 Suresh Chawla was appointed as a National Official of BECTU and accordingly resigned from the NEC. As there were no runners-up in either of the relevant divisions and fresh elections for a new National Executive Committee were to be called in January 2008, it was agreed not to hold by-elections to fill these two vacancies.

3 Branch Circular 745/2008, inviting branches to submit nominations for election as President and as divisional representatives on the NEC for the 2008-2010 term of office, was issued on 14 January 2008. Nominations closed on 3 March 2008 and where ballots were required these opened in the week commencing 10 March 2008 and closed on 30 April 2008. The result of the ballots will be embargoed until the close of the 2008 annual conference.

Laboratories division

4 At its meeting on 28 October 2007 the NEC received the minutes of the Laboratories divisional committee meeting held on 13 August. The division had then recorded with regret that its numbers had reduced to a point where it was appropriate to ask the NEC to use its powers under rule 31(b) to merge the Laboratories division with the London Production division, and re-title it a subdivision. The NEC resolved accordingly that with effect from 1 December 2007 the Laboratories division should cease to exist, and that rule changes to ratify this decision should be placed before the 2008 rules revision conference. The existing NEC representative of the Laboratories division, John Wild, continues to hold office under rule until the expiry of the 2006-2008 term of office, but there will be no election of a Laboratories representative for the 2008-2010 term. Laboratories members will be entitled to nominate and vote as part of the London Production division.

AGS elections

5 Since the 2007 annual conference elections of both the union's Assistant General Secretaries were separately required. A vacancy was created in the Arts & Entertainment, BBC and Independent Broadcasting divisional grouping through Gerry Morrissey's election as General Secretary in February 2007. Luke Crawley and Willy Donaghy were nominated by branches in accordance with the rules. On 8 June 2007 the independent scrutineer reported that 2,263 votes had been cast for Luke Crawley and 1,629 for Willy Donaghy. Luke Crawley was therefore elected as Assistant General Secretary from that date.

6 Martin Spence's five-year term of office as Assistant General Secretary for the Laboratories, London Production and Regional Production divisional grouping was due to expire in January 2008. Nominations for election were sought from branches in accordance with the rule in September 2007. On 25 October 2007 the independent scrutineer reported that Martin Spence had been the only candidate nominated. Martin Spence was therefore re-elected unopposed as Assistant General Secretary from that date.

Obituaries

7 The union’s journal up to the February 2008 issue had recorded that the following members and/or employees of BECTU or its founder unions have passed away during the course of the year: Michael Ayling, Robert Blake, Alec Budden, Ted Candy, Ann Chegwidden, Freddie Francis, Peter Hanford, Noreen Hipwell, Peter Hopkinson, Mairi Jappy, John Johnson, Winnie Lowes, Murray Martin, Rob Newland, Dennis Nisbett, Golda Offenheim, Pat Ridley, David Thomson, Bert Carnall and Ron Downing.

2007 conference

8 The minutes of the 2007 annual conference held in Bournemouth on 28 April were circulated in Branch Circular 735/2007. They included the posthumous award of honorary membership to Winnie Lowes, whose death occurred too late for inclusion in the NEC's report to that conference. Propositions carried or remitted at the 2007 conference and the manner in which the National Executive Committee has dealt with them are given in Appendix A [80k pdf] to this report or are reported on in the National Executive Committee’s report itself.

2008 conference

9 The 2008 rules revision and annual conference takes place, as agreed by the NEC on 15 October 2006, in Liverpool. Liverpool is the 2008 European Capital of Culture.

2009 conference

10 Strenuous efforts were made to find cost-effective venues outside England for the 2009 annual conference, and a detailed inspection was made of a possible venue at the West Park Centre in Dundee. The venue itself and its costs were attractive, however the travel and logistical costs proved prohibitive. The De Vere Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth, where the 2007 annual conference was successfully held, had offered a similar package adjusted for anticipated inflation. After considering possible venues in the Southampton area, the NEC decided at its meeting on 5 August 2007 that the 2009 divisional and annual conferences should take place in Bournemouth on 25-26 April 2009.

Workshops at the 2008 conference

11 Following the decision taken at the 2007 conference to re-structure the format of conference to include workshops on topical issues of interest to BECTU members, after consultation with the divisional committees the National Executive Committee agreed that the themes of the three workshops to be held as part of the 2008 conference will be:

  • The impact of the Olympics 2012
  • The role of 'union busters'
  • How Green are our industries?

Disciplinary Committee

12 No meetings of the union's Disciplinary Committee have been required since its decision on 21 March 2007 on the complaint reported to the 2007 annual conference.

Interpretations of rule

13 Since conference 2007 the NEC has not found it necessary to give any interpretation of rule under rule 33(l).

Income and expenditure

14 The income and expenditure forecast for 2008 is given in Appendix B [49k pdf].

Benevolent Fund

15 A number of applications were made through the year to the BECTU Benevolent Fund. These were considered by the National Executive Committee meetings held between June and December 2007 and grants were made totalling £1,200.

Mandela Statue Fund

16 The National Executive Committee considered a request for financial support from the Mayor of London to erect a statute of Nelson Mandela in central London,and it was decided to make a donation of £200.

Union Modernisation Fund

17 BECTU made a bid to the 2007 round of the Union Modernisation Fund. Our bid was for financial assistance to improve communication with members, and between members and the outside world. The bid sought support for designing a new website and the installation of an e-Services database package, as well as delivering a significant amount of training to representatives on communications. It was a requirement of the bid that the union provides matching funding and the union would do this through a number of means including the employment of a Communications Officer. In September 2007 we were informed that in principle BECTU's bid was successful, and in December 2007 we were informed that we would receive the maximum award of £200,000 to be paid quarterly, in arrears over two years.

18 From January 2008 Sharon Elliott has taken on the role of Communications Officer for a period of one year in order to ensure that the Union Modernisation Fund support and our communications policy are implemented effectively by someone with appropriate knowledge and commitment to BECTU

Filming of BECTU events

19 During 2007 the National Executive Committee agreed that on an annual basis BECTU should produce a DVD of some of the major events the union has been involved in through the past 12 months. This would include industrial action days, trade fairs, training courses and conferences. Most of the work on filming and editing for the DVD would be done by BECTU members who would be paid the agreed rate in line with our collective agreements. The process would be managed by a Commissioning Committee which would consist of the Communications Officer and representatives of the London Production and Regional Production divisions

Recruitment and retention overview

Introduction

20 2007 has been a year where recruitment and retention has been given top priority by officials and representatives of BECTU. Over the year we recruited 4,604 members, but 4,938 members ceased their membership, leaving us with a 334 net loss. These figures confirm that in order to stand still we need to recruit well in excess of 4,000 members a year.

21 In broadcasting it has being a very difficult year with redundancies on a significant scale taking place in the BBC and ITV. However, we have seen a growth in membership in the Arts & Entertainment and Regional Production divisions. As you will see from the following paragraphs, a detailed campaign has been outlined for 2008. You will also see from the number of statistics provided, the areas where we are well organised. The overall density of membership leaves plenty of room for improvement. If BECTU is to remain a viable independent union then it needs to continue its recruitment and retention campaigns and ultimately this will lead to significant growth in membership.

Recruitment and retention - Arts & Entertainment division

22 In 2006, the Arts & Entertainment division achieved a subscription income level of £637,000 which compared favourably with the £615,000 target set by the NEC. Average subscription income rose to £121.72. Divisional membership rose from 5,133 to 5,236, a 2% increase.

23 Recruitment throughout the division is an ongoing activity with 1200 members joining and 1043 leaving in the 12 months to 1 October 2007. Due to staff turnover, there is always scope for recruitment and in addition to this the following specific target areas were set for 2007: Odeon Cinemas; English National Opera; TMA Theatres; West End Theatres; and theatre freelancers. The results [53k pdf]

24 Odeon will almost reach its target due to the activities of the subdivisional committee during difficult harmonisation negotiations. At ENO those joining in front-of-house areas helped secure a voluntary recognition agreement for us, although gains will be offset by losses caused by redundancies. While membership will level out overall, income will reduce due to high paying members being made redundant. The reduction in membership within the TMA and West End theatres is especially disappointing considering the resources expended. The continuing growth of freelance theatre members throughout the industry is welcome and we shall continue to survey these members to ensure that we deliver the type of services that they seek.

25 The uncertainty over arts funding (with cuts announced by the Arts Council England in January 2008) makes it difficult to estimate theatre and arts centre recruitment potential, but the following observations are made by the by subdivisional committees:

West End Theatres SDC

26 The West End remains the area with the biggest potential for growth and consequently we have implemented a targeted campaign (see annex 1 below). A net gain of 100 is estimated by the end of 2008. Income should increase by at least 5%.

TMA SDC

27 Due to arts funding cuts and closures, including the Sheffield Crucible and the Lyric in Belfast among others, membership is estimated to be static but income should increase by between 3% and 4%

National Houses SDC and Arts Centres SDC

28 In the National Houses and Arts Centres membership is expected to remain static despite the loss of 50 members at the Midlands Arts Centre, but income is expected to increase by about 3%.

Odeon and Cineworld SDCs

29 Both these companies are at about maximum membership density but again income should increase by between 3% and 4%.

Independent Cinemas and Theatres SDCs

30 A net increase of about 30 members is anticipated, due mainly to the reopening of Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, and an income increase of about 3% or 4%.

Theatre freelances

31 It is difficult to estimate changes in freelance membership but if the 2007 trend continues a net increase of at least 100 can realistically be expected.

32 In conclusion, the division looks to a realistic target of a net gain of 230 members, representing an increase of 4%. This obviously will depend on the success of the West End campaign, the impact of theatre funding cuts and the continued increase in freelance membership. If these targets are met, divisional income is expected to increase by between 3% and 4% overall.

Annex 1: West End recruitment and retention campaign 2007-2008

33 The Campaign Team comprises Willie Lesslie (WL), Willy Donaghy (WD), Kate Elliott (KE), Feyi Raimi-Abraham (FRA), and A N Other (from West End).

Campaign issues and aims are:

  • Arrest the decline of union membership in the West End
  • Improvement of collective bargaining strength
  • Renegotiation of the SOLT/BECTU agreement - end date October 2008
  • Sunday opening
  • Branch organisation
  • Organise shops within employer groups, i.e. RUT, ATG, etc.
  • Identify H&S issues with a view to encouraging new and existing H&S Reps
  • Identify how to overcome resistance/apathy among existing reps
  • More concentration on wigs, wardrobe, hair & makeup - neglected areas
  • Organise staff meetings theatre-by-theatre - key face to face communication

Campaign objectives and targets are:

  • to increase the West End presence at annual conference - the target is to achieve a minimum of four delegates to the 2008 annual and divisional conferences
  • to bring new reps on board across the West End - the target is to elect or appoint a minimum of two reps per theatre group in the West End
  • to increase the membership in the West End - the target is to achieve a net gain of 75 members between June 2007 and March 2008
  • to ensure that there are regular meetings of members as a branch and at theatre level

Communications strategy

34 We have agreed that this contact needs to be direct with meetings organised in all theatres.

35 We noted that the provision and maintenance of BECTU notice boards in theatres is very patchy. Provision of notice boards is part of the trade union facilities agreement. The members of the campaign team will check these as part of their theatre visits with a view to ensuring that notice boards are in a decent state of repair and contain relevant and up-to-date union info.

36 We identified the need for an up-to-date membership e-mail database. The Supervisory Official will liaise with the union's membership department to create initially a database based on current membership records. This will be the platform on which to build a wider West End database. The team will discuss and decide on the most efficient way to approach this and what other resources may be required.

37 We agreed to improve communications with members by the creation of a CWET (Commercial West End Theatres) newsletter in paper format. We need to decide who will take the lead role in this, what the format and content should look like, and the frequency of publication. Also what other resources may be required, for example what use can be made of in-house journalistic and publishing expertise?

38 We agreed to make use of the BECTU website to publicise meetings.

39 We agreed to try to utilise the learning centre at the Palace Theatre as a possible base in the West End and to discuss learning initiatives in the West End in more detail.

50 We agreed on systematically writing to new starters in West End theatres in much the same way as has been done in the BBC for some time. The Supervisory Official has written to SOLT to arrange for the provision of names of new starters on a regular basis, as this is already part of the SOLT/BECTU agreement. SOLT Industrial Officer, Peter Morris, has responded.

51 It was agreed that the campaign team attend induction meetings for new staff and that arrangements must be made to ensure that we are informed of these sessions. It was also agreed to investigate the possibility of mass texting as a communication tool - this is to be discussed with the union's in-house IT and communications staff in the first instance. It was also agreed to make more use of Stage Screen and Radio.

Resources

52 It was agreed to divide theatres by group among the members of the campaign team (see annex 2 below).

53 It was agreed to utilise the secretarial staff to arrange time slots for theatre visits by the campaign team and to write to existing members at these venues to notify them of the visits.

54 We need to identify what resources are required to make the newsletter a reality.

Follow-up

55 It was agreed that the members of the campaign team brief each other on a regular basis to update on progress or problems.

56 It was agreed that the campaign team meet monthly, possibly the day of, or soon after, monthly team meetings.

Annex 2: theatre visits

57 Theatre visits [54k pdf]

Recruitment and retention - BBC division

58 Existing membership density [41k pdf]

Redundancies

59 The BBC made announcements on job cuts on 17 October 2007. We anticipate that the gross figure will be approximately 3000, with a majority leaving in the first two years. Most of the divisions in the BBC will need to make about 3% year on year savings for five years. World Service savings have yet to be declared but are assumed to be 3% in the first year. Although not all the savings will be met through redundancies the assumption as a worst case scenario is that we will lose 2% of members.

60 There are three areas that will be harder hit in the first year, with News making 75% of its savings in year 1 (approximate figures not available, assumed 9% loss), and Scotland, which will also be required to make the outstanding Value for Money (VfM) savings (assumed 200 jobs and 10% loss) in addition to the savings required by the latest round of job cuts. The third area, Vision, is more complicated with Factual potentially being cut by approximately 40% and the other sections within Vision also being required to make the 3% savings.

61 It has been assumed half of the leavers are paying subscriptions of £33.32 and the remainder £23 per month to try and quantify loss of income and the number of members need to be recruited at £10 per month to stand still. [55k pdf]

62 In terms of new members we potentially need to recruit 262 people to achieve a standstill in membership numbers. However it is essential to note that we will need to recruit 621 new members to replace lost revenue.

General recruitment targets

63 A joint union day of action (leafleting, rallies etc) was held on 5 November and was the start of the ongoing campaign leading almost certainly to industrial action. Although an increase in new members is expected once the campaign starts it is not expected to be as high as when VfM was announced.

64 It is not going to be possible to target every workplace and therefore we need to consider how we can get local reps to engage in one-to-one recruitment activities in their workplace. One point that has been made by reps over and over again is that our recruitment material needs to be more BBC-specific. We have made a conscious effort to streamline our publicity, but reps do find 'cold calling' difficult. One way of overcoming this would be to have a BBC-wide campaign that they could use. Without asking the membership what the issues are, one idea that has been discussed at some SDCs is Health, Safety and Welfare following the cuts for those that remain, for example using risk assessments on stress levels and workloads.

65 Branches would be asked to map the main site and also to contact all non-members in local radio stations in their region [51k pdf] (where applicable). The relevant NO will be responsible for providing support and ensuring that branches report back on progress.

66 Branches will be asked to identify one target area within the branch, map and contact the non-members and follow up with personal contact [46k pdf].

67 In the English Regions [51k pdf] branches would be asked identify one section on the main site and contact non-members, asked to contact all non-members in local radio stations in their region and identify and map one other Division to target. The Nations will be asked to identify two sections to map and contact non-members. There will be at least one recruitment visit during 2008. The relevant National Official will be responsible for providing support and that branches report back on progress.

Specific targets

68 Vision - The existing membership in the branches that now come under Vision have been mapped and the branch structures need re-launching. Although Factual will be badly hit there is still a huge potential for sustained recruitment. Once the branches are up and running the relevant NO will work with the reps to target at least four areas in Vision. It will be easy to find local issues to campaign on.

69 Support Services - Some of the branches need reorganising and re-launching. The existing membership has already been mapped so this process can start almost immediately. Although in most of this area the staff would not naturally associate themselves with joining BECTU, they have not been specific targets before. We would need to consider our sales pitch, recruitment material and method of contacting non-members.

70 Online - The Production SDC have suggested targeting this area for recruitment. There are online content staff in all programme making areas throughout the UK. We will require branches to help map the areas. The online technical staff are all based in FM&T. There are 300 (265 of which are based in London) of which we only have approximately 25 identified members. One of the A&M reps is already looking at alternative methods of communicating with potential members in online and again we would need to pitch the recruitment material to the target audience.

71 Sport - Although we have tried numerous times to launch a branch, to date we have been unsuccessful. I would propose that we try and launch the branch again but would note that without any local organisation recruitment will be difficult.

72 News - There is a large NUJ membership in London TV News, however there is still a huge potential in the more traditional BECTU areas. The London TV News branch is now functioning and therefore the NO will work with reps to target two areas for recruitment. Bush CLP branches will also be asked to target one area each for recruitment. (Specifc targets table [50k pdf])

Summary

73 The total net number of members to be recruited is 634.

Resources Ltd

74 Existing membership density:

  • Total heads 1,103
  • Membership 705
  • 64% density

No target has been set. Non-members will be written to as and when there are developments with the sale.

Worldwide

75 Existing membership density

  • Total heads 1,653
  • Membership 107
  • 7% density

The current recruitment strategy of a prize draw has not had any effect on increased recruitment figures. Have set a target of a net 10% increase - 10 new members. The NO to work with the branch to target specific areas for recruitment.

Siemens

76 Existing membership density

SEC:

  • Approx total heads 60
  • Membership approx 58
  • 97% density

SIS:

  • Approx total heads 1,000
  • Membership approx 370
  • 37% density

The SIS members belong to three main branches in London with members also in the Nations & Regions branches. Recruitment target is a net increase overall in SIS of 10% - 37 new members. The NO to work with the three main branches to target specific areas for recruitment.

Redbee Media

77 Existing membership density

  • Approx total heads 1152
  • Membership approx 368
  • 32% density

The target is a net increase of 30 new members.

Capita

78 Membership is falling with no prospect of recruiting in the area. No target set.

Xansa

79 Existing membership density

  • Approx total heads 30
  • Membership approx 10
  • 30% density

Target of five new members although the branch secretary has advised that ex-BBC employees are leaving.

Contractors

80 To our knowledge there are no redundancies in prospect but the area has a high turnover of membership and there is a high level of dismissals. (Contractors table [49k pdf])

Transmission

81 The transmitters branches (NGW) will potentially be transferring to Arqiva in 2008. The density is pretty high and therefore it is unrealistic to set targets for substantial increase in membership in all but one branch. (Transmission table [49k pdf])

82 There is some scope for recruitment in those areas that are not transferring to Arqiva [46k pdf].

Recruitment and retention - Independent Broadcasting division

83 The IB division comprises members covered by separate recognition agreements in the following companies: in ITV plc (members are spread across ten licence companies who increasingly behave with some consistency but not always), Scottish Media Group, Ulster TV, Arqiva, Virginmedia, Ofcom, C4, S4C, ITN, MTV Networks Europe, ITFC, Technicolor Network Services, Reliance Security, Baxter Storey Catering, BACC and Downtown Radio.

84 As well as undertaking the collective bargaining/personal case support required by these agreements, IB officials assist members with personal cases, from straightforward to complex, in a range of companies (where the union is not recognised) operating in commercial radio and cable and satellite - the most significant in the latter grouping being in BSkyB - and in other broadcasting related outfits. It stands to reason that where we support members with personal cases in companies where we are not recognised that this workload falls entirely on full-time officials as there is little, if any, local organisation.

85 In companies where we are recognised we can draw on the support of local officials but, as elsewhere, this is qualified by their number, their availability and their experience. In IB, the struggle of recent years - years which have been dominated by reorganisations and redundancies - has always been to find the right balance between supporting more organised areas with their industrial relations, supporting individual members and building strength (and income) through membership growth and workplace organisation.

The plan in 2008

86 With this context in mind, and to boost our effectiveness in recruitment and organisation, the proposal for recruitment activity in 2008 is that each official with a patch in IB should dedicate some clear and regular time to recruitment in their patch. That time is to be regarded as sacrosanct - time in which we can devote ourselves exclusively to building local organisation. Once commitments are made to recruitment is it vital that officials follow through. It is proposed, where staff work cross-divisionally, that they should devote a minimum of two clear days a month to recruitment in their IB patch; where officials are 100% IB-focused the proposal is that a minimum of four days a month will be spent on this activity.

87 The above proposal reflects the necessity in 2008 to improve the performance of IB in recruitment terms. An increased and exclusive focus on recruitment must mean that less time is spent on collective bargaining and personal cases - the challenge is to undertake these core duties, as well, but in a more time efficient way, with continued professionalism and without damage to the union's reputation.

88 In terms of priority areas, we believe these should remain:

  • ITV plc - London, Leeds and Manchester
  • Arqiva - Crawley Court

89 In addition the announcement by ITV of its intention to reduce the number of regional news programmes from 17 to 9 will provide us with a campaigning issue which should allow to recruit more members.

90 That said, it is important that each official with an IB patch continue to impress upon all their representatives the importance of recruitment and the development of new representatives. To support this all IB companies (which recognise BECTU) must be visited for recruitment purposes a minimum twice a year. It is important that all officials understand the importance of: mapping, focused activity and the identification of issues relevant to the actual and target membership. The task is to put these principles into practice routinely and resolutely.

91 Whilst our obvious intention is to show net growth, there is something positive to be drawn from the current state of play in that we are, at least, slowing down the rate of loss. However it is clear that the numbers we need to recruit on a monthly basis in 2008 must relate to our income targets [43k pdf].

92 IB officials will need to further develop their plans for recruitment in conjunction with their colleagues and local representatives.

93 In light of an IB income target for 2008 of £442k (down £20k on the 2007 target of £462k which we are predicted not to meet by £40K) it is proposed that we work to achieve a net increase in membership numbers for 2008 of 200. This figure of 200 to be achieved in the following way:

  • ITV plc - 100 - with a continuing focus on the three main sites
  • Arqiva - 60 - with a focus on Crawley Court
  • SMG, Ulster, C4, S4C - 20
  • Virgin Media and remaining areas - 20

94 This target is achievable but this is dependent on officials' ability/determination to apportion dedicated recruitment and organisation time. Redundancy exercises will once again affect IB, not least in Arqiva, SMG and ITV (although it is hoped that ITV's planned job losses in ITV regional news can be prevented until 2009).

95 Officials will be asked to confirm when their visits will be taking place and to what end; a calendar of dates should also confirm the visits to the smaller sites

Recruitment and retention - Regional Production division

96 In RPD the geographical dimension is crucial. Regional freelance branches cluster naturally around regional television production centres. Film and commercials production may also play a role at times, but they are by definition unpredictable and there are no major film studios outside London and the south-east. Television is therefore crucial in providing a critical mass of continuing employment opportunities for freelance members in the nations and regions.

97 In years gone by, some regional centres were dominated by the BBC, and others by ITV. Now the BBC is generally dominant, but all the signs are that the volume of freelance work opportunities coming out of the BBC will shrink. In the Leeds/Yorkshire area the ITV drama base retains its strength.

98 The key national/regional production centres identified in previous years were:

  • The M4 axis from Cardiff to Bristol: South Wales and Western Freelance branches
  • The M62 axis from Liverpool through Manchester to Leeds: North-West and Yorks/Humberside Freelance branches
  • Scotland: Scottish Freelance branch

99 These five branches are all in RPD's top 6 in terms of gross recruitment in 2007. This suggests that our focus on key production centres is justified, and that they should continue to be the primary focus for recruitment & retention in 2008.

100 The other 'top six' recruiting branch is the West Midlands branch. This is despite the area being largely abandoned by broadcasters. We therefore propose to add the West Midlands as a fourth regional focus for recruitment & retention.

101 Each of these four priority areas has its own opportunities and challenges, and each has a BECTU office and full time Official. If this broad approach and these targets are agreed we will be asking each of the locally-based Officials to update existing plans and/or draw up a new plan for recruitment & retention in their area.

102 Our aim is to achieve net growth of 240 members across these six branches as follows:

  • The M4 axis from Cardiff to Bristol: South Wales and Western Freelance branches: net growth of 80 members
  • The M62 axis from Liverpool through Manchester to Leeds: North-West and Yorks/Humberside Freelance branches: net growth 80
  • Scotland: Scottish Freelance branch: net growth 40
  • Midlands: West Midlands branch: net growth 40

103 In all other branches we aim at least to hold membership steady - i.e. to recruit in sufficient numbers to compensate for unavoidable drop-out.

Recruitment and retention - London Production division

104 The freelance labour market in London and the south-east is much larger, and much more volatile, than regional freelance labour markets. It has no single centre, but churns constantly between film, television, commercials and other audio-visual production. It also attracts a disproportionate number of young people trying to break in, ripe for exploitation as an industrial reserve army, undermining pay and conditions generally by working for little or no money.

105 There are important areas where our membership is low, such as Animation and New Media. In this area we are slowly rebuilding our branch, but it would require a major effort and a major commitment of resources to achieve significant membership growth in 2008.

106 We propose that, given the difficult situation faced by BECTU as a whole in 2008, we should not prioritise 'greenfield' initiatives such as Animation/New Media. We should instead aim to build on proven areas of success. This is driven by the prospect of large-scale membership loss in other parts of the union, especially the BBC. We face an urgent need to bring in new members from the freelance sector, and our best chance of success is by continuing to focus on those areas where experience shows we are most effective.

107 In 2007 the six most successful LPD branches in terms of recruitment have been:

  • Writers/Producers/Directors
  • Camera
  • Sound
  • Post Production & Facilities
  • Lighting Technicians
  • Graduates/New Entrants

108 In addition the Hair & Make-Up branch, while recruiting fewer members in absolute terms, stands out as being ahead of its recruitment target.

109 Cumulatively, at the time of writing these seven branches are on target to recruit between 820 and 830 new members in 2007. We therefore propose that they should be the focus of our recruitment & retention campaign in 2008, as they appear to offer the greatest scope for continuing membership growth.

110 This campaign will need to retain a focus on retention as well as recruitment. Despite the prospect of 820-830 new members recruited across these seven branches, membership drop-out through retirement, lapsing, resignation etc. means that at the time of writing we expect that they will deliver a net membership gain of only about 140.

111 A focus on retention will be especially important in the Post Production & Facilities branch, which despite a good recruitment record is showing a net membership loss at the time of writing. The relevant Official will be asked to work with the members to draw up a detailed recruitment & retention plan for the branch.

112 Appropriate plans will be drawn up with the Camera, Lighting Technicians, and Hair & Make-Up branches, each of which is functioning and holds regular meetings.

113 Recruitment and retention in the Graduates/New Entrants branch should be (a) integrated with the existing outreach activities of the Writers/Producers/Directors branch and (b) developed as part of a wider effort aimed at young people and newcomers operating in the low/microbudget production sector. This will build on the profile we have already established in this sector from our initiatives on bogus 'work experience' and the National Minimum Wage.

114 That leaves the Sound branch. Despite repeated efforts by a succession of Officials, the Sound branch has not held a successful quorate meeting for some years. Nevertheless it continues to grow. Although a single Official will continue to be responsible for the branch, we propose that the team of Officials with responsibilities in LPD should work together to share ideas and develop an action plan.

115 Our aim is to achieve net growth of 310 members across these seven branches as follows:

  • Writers/Producers/Directors: net growth 60
  • Camera: net growth 85
  • Sound: net growth 35
  • Post Production & Facilities: net growth 45
  • Lighting Technicians: net growth 25
  • Graduates/New Entrants: net growth 40
  • Hair & Make-Up: net growth 20

116 In all other branches we aim at least to hold membership steady - i.e. to recruit in sufficient numbers to compensate for unavoidable drop-out.

Recruitment and retention - education and training

117 The work of the education and training department is required to be carried out in such a way as to support the overall recruitment and retention strategy. The following paragraphs cover the following areas of activity:

  • the training of reps, stewards and branch officers
  • the Union Learning Fund Project
  • BECTU organising campaigns and public events
  • related work with divisions

The training of reps, stewards and branch officers

118 This section of the report will outline precisely how the education and training programmes for reps, branch officers and activists contribute to a successful organising strategy which in turn supports the recruitment and retention strategy.

119 Recruitment and retention of members depends on a number of different pre-existing conditions to succeed:

  • that the union is well organised at workplace and branch level - there are active members, able to work on their own initiative with a sound understanding of trade union principles and practice etc.
  • that the union itself is effective and delivers, promotes itself well and communicates with members in numerous ways
  • that members and potential members identify with the union and its values

120 These are pre-requisites of a successful recruitment & retention strategy and embody what the TUC and others call the 'organising agenda'. Being an organising union involves the same activities as a servicing union but the activities are largely carried out by lay members rather than full-time officials. This means that local representatives must have the knowledge and the facilities agreements to be relatively autonomous in day-to-day activity, including;

  • representing members individually
  • campaigning on issues that matter locally
  • managing all branch affairs
  • negotiating with management
  • communicating and meeting with members

121 The programme of reps training, including the content of the courses, their length and the educational methods used are all driven by the analysis outlined above. During 2007 the numbers attending courses (excluding BBC branch officers' courses) [42k pdf] again reached a new high of 208 - the cause of this being a rise in the number of women attending. The programme is also designed to welcome people into trade union activity and help them feel part of a broader collective community with sound union values.

122 The total figures show a clear and continuing trend of growth over recent years and with an approximate 570 reps and stewards in total we are beginning to reach a significant proportion of the available constituency.

123 The courses include a four-part core training programme, a health and safety course and some more advance additional courses. The programme includes:

  • Representing your members
  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organising skills
  • Health and safety parts 1 and 2
  • Employment law
  • Tackling workplace stress

124 The total number of reps awarded accreditation to attend hearings on behalf of members was 190, which is approximately a third of the 570 reps on the database. This meets the requirements of ACAS for 'worker's companions' to attend formal hearings with workers (N.B. - 'workers' not 'employees').

Union Learning Fund project

125 Thanks to the support of the Union Learning Fund (ULF), we have been able to employ three Learning Organisers, one of whom, Kate Elliott, also manages the project on a day-to-day basis. The other Learning Organisers are Yvonne Smith working mainly in London and the South (4 days per week) and John Crumpton working mainly in the North West and Yorkshire (2 days per week).

126 The ULF support has also enabled events and courses to be run which have showcased BECTU and enabled us to connect with members (directly on courses and indirectly through publicity) and give local branches an organising opportunity. The ULF learning team are also required to engage with training providers, funders and other bodies that may be able to help BECTU members to access training and funding. The team also support particular targets of current organising campaigns.

127 Starting in 2007 we have once again secured finance for a local learning initiative. In previous years we have run projects in Wales and this year in a project led by Martin Roberts (A&E) and supported by Kate Elliott (South West Learning Works for All Fund) we have delivered short courses in lighting and sound. We have also submitted a bid to the Wales ULF on behalf of FEU partners to run a two-year project to broker training courses and information for freelancers.

128 The essence of the ULF project is that the Learning Organisers:

  • run vocational training and freelance skills workshops to support members training needs
  • establish close working partnerships with training providers, colleges and funders as a result of running the workshops
  • create longer term partnerships on the back of the successful working together
  • establish links with local BECTU branches
  • create a community of Union Learning Reps to develop the agenda further

Tables for paragraph 128 [46k pdf]

129 All learning events and workshops are run according to a process that promotes the image of BECTU as a modern innovative trade union and at the same time delivers something tangible for members. Full use is made of the union journal, website (plus learning website), bulk e-mails, flyers and visits.

130 Numbers will always be limited and we do not aspire to be a training provider and so in the future we will be a provider of information, we will broker and deliver courses with partner institutions and we may pilot new innovative courses it is too expensive or difficult to run elsewhere.

BECTU organising campaigns and public events

131 During 2007 education and training has continued to be at the heart of some of the organising campaigns and special events put on by the union including the organising targets allocated to national officials. Members of the full-time team supported campaigns in the West End Commercial Theatres (Kate Elliott), Post-Production & Facilities branch (Yvonne Smith), YTV (John Crumpton and Brian Kelly).

132 Highlights of the organising support have included the London Theatre Festival, organised by Kate Elliott and held at the Actors' Centre in Covent Garden; attracting over 100 visitors it ended with a public debate including the CEO of CCskills, Tom Bewick. Similarly a seminar held at Westminster Kingsway College in Soho, organised by Yvonne Smith (with support from Tony Norton) and in partnership with Ravensbourne College attracted over 60 people to learn about 'The HD Effect'. An introduction to Risk Assessment delivered by John Crumpton at the North West Fair was another example of education and training adding value to a BECTU public event.

133 There was also a significant training element to the Bristol Fair, Northwest Fair and the International Makeup Artists' Show, as well as a contribution to other public events and trade shows. Education and training were also important for the WPD Freelance Fair at BAFTA and the BECTU Women's conference in November 2007.

134 Support from the ULF project has enabled us to play this key role and has also enabled us to demonstrate that the skills agenda is about building the union as well as individual advancement. Our deliberate method has been to work with colleagues to demonstrate how education and training can be very useful ways to re-connect with members and attract the attention of non-members. This helps lay the basis for a successful organising programme and is a form of learning itself.

135 The work of the team in all these areas has also aided the achievement of the targets and outcomes that have been agreed with the Union Learning Fund. The intention is to meet all the targets and at the same time to support ongoing organising initiatives.

Related work with divisions

136 The success of the ULF projects in recent years and the growth and success of the reps training programme have allowed the education and training department to begin developing projects and initiatives with divisions.

137 With LPD and RPD there has been a longstanding engagement with education and training and this has continued in the work at FT2, Skillset and the BECTU's Listening project led by Sin Gale in Wales. These commitments continue and are outlined in the Training Committee report.

138 There have been some rapid developments in A&E with the arrival of the new Sector Skills Council CCskills, the National Skills Academy (NSA) and the creation of Skillscene. The most important developments apart from the NSA have been the discussions about a new skills-based grading structure for members of SOLT and which might extend nationwide if successful. This has also been helpful in developing a joint learning agreement.

139 The emergence of 'apprenticeships' at the ROH and elsewhere has prompted the publication of a BECTU guidance note on what to look for in a well-designed apprenticeship scheme. Copies are available from Brian Kelly or from the BECTUlearning website.

140 At IB there have been very promising discussions with ITV HR department regarding the training of reps and the possible adoption of a national joint learning agreement. There is now a draft BECTU model learning agreement available on www.bectulearning.org.uk .

Industrial overview

Introduction

141 Industrially BECTU had an exceptionally busy year in 2007 with ongoing negotiations with all of the major employers on pay, pensions, redundancies, TUPE transfers etc. As you can see from divisional reports which follow, it does not matter whether you are employed on a freelance or staff basis, our members' future is determined by political and economic decisions. In 2007 we have seen this exemplified on a number of occasions.

142 In the BBC the Licence Fee Settlement resulted in proposals for 2,500 compulsory redundancies, changes to the pension scheme and outsourcing of major pieces of work.

143 In ITV we have seen improved pay awards coupled with proposals to reduce regional news and a further reduction in the total employment count across the sector.

144 In Transmission, subject to approval by Ofcom our members employed at NG Wireless will now be merged with Arqiva. However, we have been able to secure pension and other employment protection for our members.

145 In the subsidised theatre sector a number of theatres have either closed or reduced their number of productions as a result of cuts in funding by central or local government. On the upside, a number of previously closed theatres have been refurbished by money predominantly from the National Lottery Fund and these venues are now producing work and employing members. Overall, the subsidised theatre sector has found that its grants are being significantly reduced as a result of the government reining in the DCMS budgets in order to fund the 2012 Olympics.

146 Across cinemas new technology continues to gather pace and the long term future for projections in major chains is not good. We have however put forward proposals to the cinema employers to offer greater flexibility in return for improved job security.

147 In the freelance film and independent production sector employment throughout the year has had peaks and troughs and a number of government changes in relation to tax have had favourable impact upon the industry. During 2007 we negotiated a voluntary recognition agreement for freelance workers employed by BBC Resources Ltd and campaigns for further agreements across the BBC and ITV are continuing.

Industrial overview - Independent Broadcasting

148 ITV plc found itself again the constant topic of major conversation as the company struggled to maintain a leading position alongside its content and commercial competitors the BBC and BSkyB. Michael Grade’s arrival as executive chairman in February 2007 gave way to the traditional company tour but unfortunately his words of encouragement to regional news staff were not borne out by the company's proposals, announced on 12 September 2007, for an effective withdrawal from diverse regional news. Of 17 flagship programmes, which comprise a number of regional opt-outs delivering variety to the licence area audience, the company intends only to support nine from 1 January 2009. That commitment, such as it is, is only good until 2014 when digital switchover is complete. Effectively, the company’s announcement put hundreds of jobs at risk but the detail of ITV’s plan - which is dependent on OFCOM approval as part of the regulator’s second PSB Review - is not expected until the Spring of 2008.

149 From January 2008 BECTU, joined by its colleagues in the Federation of Entertainment Unions, will. engage in a lobbying and parliamentary campaign aimed at persuading ITV to re-think. This past year has also seen a further though less headline-grabbing attack, by ITV on its public service commitments. Factual departments in Leeds, Bristol, London and Manchester have shed jobs and the once flagship Southbank Show cut its core staff production team by half. ITV has also had its significant share of problems on the trust front with a £2 million fine for GMTV and an expected censure from OFCOM due to irregularities in the operation of its phone-in services. The company has also been strongly criticised for its effective withdrawal from original children’s programme production; BECTU has lent its support to the resulting pan-industry campaign, Save Children’s TV.

150 On the good news front, BECTU was instrumental in securing union recognition at ITV Westcountry and at BACC, a compliance division at ITV, whose staff are set to be TUPE transferred in 2008 to a new company, Clearcast, in which ITV will partner with BSkyB, Channel 4, Channel 5 and others.

151 Elsewhere in IB, the principal key other employer, Arqiva, continues to expand. Its planned merger with National Grid Wireless was referred to the Competition Commission; a report was due in January 2008. The company’s other acquisitions/new contracts also created challenges for BECTU and not least with regards to our working relationship with other trade unions.

152 The divestment by broadcasters of their transmission operations (see ITV in January 2007) continued with Channel 4’s announcement in November 2007 of its intention to contract Red Bee to operate and develop its transmission operations paving the way for a further significant transfer in 2008 of staff under the TUPE regulations. In Scotland, Scottish Media Group’s boardroom coup ended prolonged speculation about a possible merger with Ulster TV and led to some optimism that the company might refocus on the production of cutting edge indigenous and Network output. So far that optimism has not been fulfilled as the company focuses instead on stabilising the enterprise through cost-cutting and job losses.

153 The IB division records its thanks to Nigel Mason who left BECTU’s employment in October 2007 and who made a valuable contribution to the division’s work during his time with the union.

154 The recruitment of new members and the retention of existing members has remained a key priority for the division’s officials and representatives. The decline in membership numbers slowed during 2007, but a great deal remains to be done.

Industrial overview - London and Regional Production

155 The outlook for freelance members working in broadcasting is subject to many of the same factors that affect our permanently employed members, such as the cuts and redundancies in the BBC, and the planned move of major BBC departments from London to Salford. Meanwhile in the independent sector small and medium-sized companies continue to be snapped up by the 'mega-indies' which now dominate the sector.

156 Our main effort in the independent sector has been to conclude negotiations with PACT on the new Television Factual Programmes Agreement. Talks came close to breakdown over pay, but with the agreement of the London and Regional Production divisions we excluded pay and reached a 'conditions only' Agreement covering hours, travel, rest breaks etc., which took effect from 1 October 2007. It is backed up by a ratecard of recommended going rates on the website.

157 Elsewhere in the independent sector on The Bill where we have a collective agreement, we are at the time of writing involved in our second year of pay negotiations, which involves annual leave entitlement, the switch to Schedule E for some grades and union pressure for a crche or nursery vouchers.

158 In the BBC we are now into a regular cycle of annual pay claims and representation of freelance members in our two established areas of recognition, BBC Scotland and the Natural History Unit. In addition, during 2007 we negotiated a voluntary recognition agreement for collective bargaining on behalf of freelances at BBC Resources, taking effect from October. At the time of writing we are also actively pursuing recognition for freelances working on Eastenders.

159 Even where we are not formally recognised for collective bargaining we have achieved results for freelance members working for the BBC. Sustained pressure from the union achieved a pay rise on Casualty in Bristol, and we have met the BBC to discuss procedures for paying freelance invoices, and the tax aspects of freelance engagements.

160 After a slow start, film production levels in 2007 ended higher than in 2006: at the time of writing 2007 investment was 26% higher than 2006 investment, with 40% of this investment coming from the USA despite a chronically weak dollar. The improved investment reflects a bedding down of the new tax credit/cultural test, coupled with producers' nervousness about writers', actors' and directors' negotiations in the USA including strike action.

161 Negotiations on the film Construction Crews Agreement were difficult and at one point broke down completely. In the end we concluded a one-year agreement including a flat rate increase on basic rates together with a reduction in paid working hours which increased the value of the hourly rate and therefore of overtime and holiday pay.

162 Talks on a new Agreement for Lighting Technicians on major feature films broke down at the eleventh hour: the essential elements of pay and hours were already in place, but the employers sought to redefine the scope of the agreement. The union responded by informing all major features that we expected them to honour the new rates, which they have done. We have therefore achieved a de facto pay rise but have not yet concluded a formal agreement.

163 FAA members achieved an inflation busting 5.5% pay increase from 1 November 2007. Talks had begun early in the hope of concluding the negotiation on time but PACT had other ideas. The employers' association wished to prolong the talks with ideas of expanding the present agreement into other areas. However, the union managed to finally convince the employers that we should concentrate on the main agreement first. As a result, members have better pay across all parts of the agreement including travel, supplementary performance and service fees. Most significantly, for decades members were required to give up for free the last half hour for assistants to sign members off. This has now gone and signing off will in future be calculated at single time. This package is seen by all as a real victory and is a reflection of the hard work put in by the Film Artistes branch as a whole.

164 In commercials we continue to advise and represent members on individual contracts, and where branches are sufficiently well-organised they have succeeded in setting and defending their own rates. The Grips, Sparks and Riggers have been especially successful.

165 As reported elsewhere, during 2007 the Laboratories division was formally disbanded by the NEC and replaced by a new Labs subdivision of LPD. The NEC will seek formal ratification of this decision by the rules revision conference.

166 The decision to disband the Labs as a division does not mean that the film laboratories have disappeared as an industrial sector: they still exist, but there are fewer of them and they employ fewer staff. Our membership in the laboratories has fallen to under 300. We continue to have fully functioning collective agreements at Rank Lab at Denham, Technicolor at West Drayton, Soho Images in the West End, the National Film and TV Archive at Berkhamsted, and Film Lab North in Leeds. During the past year members at Rank achieved an impressive 5.8% pay rise.

Joint Industry Grading Scheme

167 BECTU plays an active role in the Joint Industry Grading Scheme (JIGS) Ltd., a company limited by guarantee providing a legal framework for grading schemes and registers in safety-critical areas of film and TV production. It provides clear procedures for establishing the competence of individuals working in these specialist areas, and for resolving disputes. Other members are Equity, the BBC, ITV, and PACT.

168 Since its inception JIGS has overseen the Special Effects Grading Scheme and the Joint Industry Stunts Committee. During the past year the SITAC (Riggers) scheme has been brought under the JIGS umbrella. A website is being designed, and once it is published it will advertise individuals on these registers, plus qualified Grips who have achieved the Grips NVQ.

Industrial overview - Arts & Entertainment

Theatres

169 2007 was a good year for the theatre industry in general and for the West End in particular, reporting record ticket sales. While prospects for the commercial sector in the West End remain optimistic, the impact of diverting funding from the arts to the 2012 Olympic Games in London remains to be seen. There is also considerable concern that funding to arts organisations from local authorities will be reduced as their grants from central government are reduced. While a number of theatres and arts centres announced plans for closures for redevelopment, the effects of this were countered by other venues re-opening post redevelopment.

170 Negotiations with the Theatrical Management Association (TMA), the employers’ association representing the vast majority of large-scale regional theatres in the UK, yielded a 4% increase in the minimum pay rates within the collective agreement, a 3% increase on all other rates of pay, and a 0.5% increase in matched employers’ pension contribution. Problems were caused when a number of theatres and arts centres broke with the practice of applying these increases to rates above the minima. The union and employers also formed a working party to examine the current system of get-outs, with particular focus on health and safety problems caused by long hours of work. While the working party continues to meet at the time of writing, it is not expected that there will be any significant recommendations to be considered in forthcoming negotiations. Although automatic recognition for BECTU is a feature of the collective agreement, a voluntary recognition agreement had to be fought for at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

171 Following on from last year’s troubled industrial relations with the West End employers’ association, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), concerning the arrangements for regular Sunday performances, a jointly commissioned independent report into the collective agreement recommended that this be rewritten to produce a skills-based agreement that would address the needs of employees, managers and producers. Negotiations with SOLT yielded a 5% increase on the pay rates, and a 1% increase in matched employers’ pension contributions, in the collective agreement.

172 2007 was a difficult year for some of the National Houses. Although the final part of a three-year pay deal worth 4.9% was implemented, members at the ENO saw about 40 of their colleagues made redundant as the company faced another financial crisis. This was partly offset when voluntary recognition was won for 25 members in front of house areas. At the National Theatre, negotiations involving arrangements for Sunday performances continued, while a general pay increase worth 2.75% was agreed, with increases of up to 9% for lower paid front of house members. At the RSC, a 3.5% pay award was agreed, and the branch has to be applauded for winning back recognition against a background of union-busting tactics. At the ROH, increases of 3.5% were also agreed but the final salary pension scheme was closed to new members and replaced by a stakeholder scheme.

173 Most venues not covered by the main collective agreements, e.g. arts centres, some regional theatres and independent cinemas, continued to operate in usually difficult circumstances, but a special mention must go to the members at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton who negotiated phased pay increases of up to 22% after two days of disciplined and high profile strike action.

Odeon cinemas

174 During the course of the year, much time has been spent on Odeon, finishing negotiations on revised terms and conditions for Technicians working in the company's Sound and Projection department. There has been a multitude of meetings in Manchester and London followed by two ballots of the membership. Initially the proposal was rejected in a ballot but following further and lengthy negotiations, improvements were made, members re-balloted and the proposal was accepted.

175 In the Autumn of 2007, BECTU submitted its pay claim to Odeon for 2008 seeking a 4.6% increase and a reduction from 40 to 39 hours in the working week.

Cineworld

176 The projectionists' SDC continues to have a strong and influential presence in the company. With more than 90% of projectionists across the whole of the UK in membership, the company takes notice of the work of the committee.

177 A 3.9% increase in pay rates, plus 0.5% uplift to the annual bonus, was agreed for this year's pay round. The 0.5% award constituted part of this year's negotiation and is a stand alone payment with the negotiating committee giving an undertaking to explore the possibilities surrounding Performance Related Pay. At the time of writing it was thought the company was in negotiations for the delivery of 300 digital projectors which could have an impact on future employment of membership. No formal meeting had taken place on PRP. A supplementary report will be given to conference if necessary.

Industrial overview - BBC

BBC pay

178 The BBC initially offered 3.5% which was rejected by members in a ballot. Subsequently a two year deal was put forward. This consisted of 4% from 1 August 2007 with a delayed increase in pension contributions from September 2008. The pay rise would be 2% in the second year with the proviso that if inflation was above 2% in April 2008 then a fresh claim could be submitted. This was accepted by a majority of 93% in a ballot. A similar settlement was reached in Siemens.

Resources sell-off

179 Talks on the proposed sale of Resources have been continuing and members have now been balloted on a package of guarantees secured from the BBC. This would protect pensions, terms and conditions for three years and jobs for 12 months from the date of sale. A significant breakthrough was the protection of the BBC redundancy agreement until 2012. BECTU remains opposed to the sale in principle and a question about the sale was included in the ballot.

BBC Resources recognition

180 In a significant step forward BECTU was able to secure a recognition agreement on behalf of freelance members working for BBC Resources. This is welcome as further progress in our battle to secure recognition for freelance members across the BBC, and also because the company, a significant user of freelance labour, is likely to be sold into the private sector and the right to represent our members there will provide a good example for other employers.

BBC job cuts

181 In 2005 the BBC proposed cutting and outsourcing nearly 4,000 jobs over the next three years. To date BECTU has been successful in protecting its members from compulsory redundancies during this process.

182 In October 2007, following a poor licence fee settlement, the BBC proposed to cut a further 2,600 jobs. Only the threat of a strike forced the BBC into proper consultations over the cuts. After initial meetings it became clear that the BBC was intent on forcing compulsory redundancies of union members. There were also proposals which would affect pensions and allowances which were unacceptable. A ballot for industrial action began on 2 December, but strike action was averted in January 2008 when the BBC made substantial concessions.

BECTU membership

Membership breakdown

183 The detailed statistical breakdown of BECTU's membership as at 31 December 2007 is given in Appendix C [73k pdf].

Subscription structure

184 The National Executive Committee reviewed the current subscription structure and felt that in the main the current structure was the fairest in order to allow members to pay the appropriate rate depending on their earnings. However, on reviewing a number of membership reports, it was felt that the progression from the introductory subscription rate to the full 1% or banded rate should be phased in. The National Executive Committee reognised that this would present technical difficulties for the membership database at a time when it was being upgraded, which prevented a rule change on this being put before the 2008 rules revision conference. The NEC intends to submit a rule change to the 2009 annual conference under rule 9(e).

Reduced subscriptions

185 During 2007 the National Executive Committee were asked to agree reduced subscriptions for specified groups of members, as follows:

  • 17 members of the CWU transferring to BECTU as a result of the TUPE transfer involving their new employer Arqiva.
  • BECTU organised a number of fairs throughout the year and on each of these occasions new members joining at the time were offered a 25% discount on their first year's subscription, subject to the payment of a full year's membership up front. This included the Northwest Freelance Fair, events organised by the Writers Producers & Directors branch, the Sound Show, the Broadcast Live Show and Production Base.
  • A discount of 25% also applied to those joining on the day at BECTU's Move on Up diversity events.

£120 representation fee

186 As agreed at the 2006 conference, members who join the union with a pre-existing problem, seeking representation on it from either a full-time official or a lay representative, are required to pay a supplementary representation fee of £120. The chart shows how many members paid the fee in 2007, broken down by division [31k pdf].

187 In the autumn of 2007 the National Executive Committee checked and found that 90% of the individuals who joined on this basis remained members of BECTU.

Life and honorary membership

188 The National Executive Committee has awarded life membership of BECTU to the following members during 2007-2008: Keith Shankster, Trevor Austin, Derek Paley, Rodney Bennett, Edwards Collins, Peter Wilkinson, John Scarrott, Brian Woodisse, George Gibbs, Stuart Nicholls, Prof. Brian Winston, Christopher Stevens and Jeff Inman.

189 The National Executive Committee has agreed to recommend to conference that honorary membership be awarded to Cris Woodcock, Turlough MacDaid, Sandra Vickers, Martin Clarke and Kate Walker.

Alfie Squires Bursary

190 In 2007 the Alfie Squires Bursary gave financial support to two members, to enable them to undertake a Certificate in Professional Development (Union Learning) course.

Roger Bolton Memorial Award

191 In memory of Roger Bolton, who died in November 2006 while still in office as General Secretary, the National Executive Committee agreed to present an annual award to the branch or individual deemed to have contributed the most to BECTU in the past year. Following nominations from divisions, the National Executive Committee decided in January 2008 to make the award from this year to the Ritzy Cinema branch, in recognition of their imaginative, disciplined and resoundingly successful campaign to win fair pay in 2007. The runners up were John Howcroft, a dedicated BBC safety representative responsible in no small measure for putting safety at the top of management's agenda, and the Writers Producers & Directors branch, for their sustained and innovative programme of freelance fairs and public union events.

Pensioners Forum

192 Four issues of the BECTU Pensioners Forum newsletter have been published, in August 2006, February 2007, August 2007, and February 2008. The next issue is scheduled for August 2008. The newsletter has covered the campaigns, lobbies and conferences of the National Pensioners Convention (to which BECTU is affiliated), provided information about pension scheme regulators and advice services, looked at pensioners associations in the industries in which we organise, covered pension news nationally and in Europe, and highlighted specific pension issues directly affecting members.

Property

373-377 Clapham Road

193 The development work at the rear of 373-377 Clapham Road continued throughout 2007. At the time of writing this report the construction of the new conservatory was still in progress. It is hoped that all of the work relating to the property for BECTU's use would be completed no later than April 2008.

Property project with NUJ

194 The October 2007 NEC meeting endorsed a report by the General Secretary seeking the NEC's permission to investigate the possibility of BECTU sharing a joint head office with the NUJ. This would allow both unions to continue to work closely together on industrial and political campaigns and at the same time make operational savings which could be put into other services. The General Secretary advised the NEC that for the project to be successful it would need the unions jointly to find an appropriate building with significant conference and training facilities at a cost no greater than the monies that would be raised from the sale of their current head offices. A supplementary report will be made to conference.

BECTU'S staffing

BECTU Staff Retirement Scheme

195 2007 was a successful year for the investments of the Staff Retirement Scheme. However at the time of writing this report the Trustees of the Scheme and BECTU, the employer, were awaiting results of the triennial review, and even though the investment returns were better than predicted it was likely that the actuaries would insist upon an increase in the assumed life expectancy of pensioners and this could offset any increase in the investment results. A supplementary report will be made to conference.

196 Following Luke Crawley's election as Assistant General Secretary, he resigned as one of the two staff Trustees of the pension scheme. David Beevers was elected by staff Scheme members to replace him.

Staffing changes

197 After 24 years' service to BECTU and its predecessor unions, Sandra Vickers retired as PA to the General Secretary in November 2007; she has been succeeded by Diane Lockwood. Nigel Mason left BECTU's employment in October 2007 to take up the post of Industrial Relations Officer at the British Medical Association. Sadly, Rob Newland died suddenly on 20 July 2007.

198 Suresh Chawla and Pat Styles were employed respectively as Organising and National Officials with effect from the beginning of January 2008. Rebecca Wingate-Saul resigned as Union Modernisation Fund co-ordinator with effect from January 2008 and Sharon Elliott was seconded for a year from heading the Independent Broadcasting team to the post of Communications Officer. Ruby Ali's position as acting editor of Stage Screen & Radio came to an end in January 2008, but a possible further contract was under consideration at the time of writing.

199 Tom Bell was promoted to Supervisory Official of the London Production and Regional Production divisions in September 2007 and David Beevers was promoted to acting Supervisory Official of the Independent Broadcasting division from January 2008 for a period of one year.

200 Equality monitoring of BECTU's employees takes place annually. The gender balance of BECTU's employees is given in the following table [40k pdf].

External relations

Labour Party

201 BECTU was represented at the 2007 Labour Party conference held in Bournemouth by General Secretary Gerry Morrissey and Vice President Lawrence Van Reiss. Tony Lennon and Rebecca Wingate-Saul attended as observers.

Election of Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

202 BECTU members in Britain not exempt from contributing to the union's political fund were balloted on the leadership of the Labour Party following Tony Blair's resignation as Prime Minister. At its meeting held on 27 April 2007 the National Executive Committee agreed that the General Secretary should write to the General Secretary of the Labour Party outlining the NEC’s concerns about the 'loyalty' statement that members were required to sign in order for their vote became valid. The General Secretary also stated that the letter sent to members with the ballot paper would make it clear that BECTU’s NEC does not support the statement.

203 Gordon Brown MP was elected unopposed as Leader of the Labour Party. 2,717 BECTU members cast transferable votes in the election for Deputy Leader, expressing a preference for Hilary Benn. However in the broader electoral college Harriet Harman was elected Deputy.

Parliamentary Panel

204 BECTU's Parliamentary Panel has been at work on a number of occasions throughout 2007 on behalf of the campaigns organised by BECTU and in January 2008 members of the National Executive Committee and the Panel met to discuss forthcoming legislation and possible issues of importance to BECTU members.

TUC, Scottish TUC and Wales TUC

204 BECTU’s delegation to the 2007 Trades Union Congress comprised Tony Lennon, Martin Spence, Suresh Chawla, Peter Cox, Jack Amos and Angie Scurr. BECTU submitted the following two motions, both of which were carried:

Arts Funding

Congress expresses grave concerns about the prospect of a reduction in arts funding for 2008-11 arising from the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Congress further expresses its disappointment at the decision to divert £112m of lottery money from the Arts Council to the Olympics.

Congress notes the serious implications which will result for the arts in general and theatre in particular, including:

  • a return to the disastrous 'stop-start' funding approach of Conservative Governments
  • a reduction in the benefits to the public of accessible and original theatre combined with outreach work aimed at building a more diverse audience
  • a quick and adverse impact on employment and pay levels in this labour intensive sector, jeopardising trade union initiatives on low pay, training and equal opportunities
  • a self-defeating reduction in the enormous economic spin off benefits of theatre (calculated at £2.6b from just £121m of public subsidy in 2004)

Congress further notes the tight financial constraints on the British Film Institute arising from reductions in arts funding.

Congress therefore calls on the General Council to campaign for the Government to reconsider its approach to public funding for theatre, film and the arts by agreeing a funding settlement at least in line with inflation and by reconsidering the diversion of lottery funds to the Olympics.

Workers Rights

Congress welcomes the new International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) unifying the previously separate ICFTU and WCL; reaffirms its commitment to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, with particular refer to Article 23; and congratulates those responsible for the launch of 'your company' as part of the TUC’s website www.worksmart.org.uk in August 2006.

Congress notes the constitution of the ITUC, which pledges to struggle for 'the emancipation of working people and a world in which the dignity and rights of all human beings is assured… '; and which recognises 'the urgent need to transform social, economic and political structures and relations which stand as obstacles to that vision… ' and the need for 'democratic governance in the interests of labour, which it holds superior to those of capital'. Congress further notes the implications of the content of the worksmart.org.uk website, which reveals the considerable discrepancy between average profit created by, and average wages received by, the average UK worker.

Congress therefore instructs the General Council to sponsor and participate in a national and international campaign for universal fundamental reform of fiscal policy and of book-keeping and accountancy practice, as an inseparable part of the consolidation of the above developments into a Universal Declaration of Workers’ Rights.

205 BECTU’s delegation to the 2007 Scottish TUC, which was held on 16-18 April, comprised Paul McManus, Doug McGill, Turlough MacDaid, Chilton Inglis.

206 BECTU submitted the following motions to the 2007 STUC:

Scottish Opera

This Congress condemns the Management and Board of Scottish Opera for the way in which they have used taxpayers’ money to engage a union busting HR consultant to de-recognise BECTU.

This Congress is committed to ensuring Fair Employment Policies are pursued by all Employers, but particularly believes that any organisation, in receipt of public funding, must be required, as a condition of grant, to follow best practice in recognising, and collaborating with, the appropriate trade unions.

Congress therefore instructs the STUC to:

  1. campaign to the Scottish Executive to develop the Memorandum of Understanding on Fair Employment into a statutory obligation on any organisation receiving public funds and
  2. call upon all Scottish Executive ministers and Labour MSPs to publicly condemn the management of Scottish Opera, calling on them to reinstate their union recognition agreements immediately

The Chagos Islanders

Congress notes that for a second time, in May 2006 the High Court ruled that the Chagos Islanders have a right to return to the homes from which they were cynically evicted in the late 1960s. Congress condemns the Government for its refusal to accept these judgements in order to uphold a secret Order in Council that bans anyone, except US military personnel, from setting foot on these British territory islands.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Falklands War, Congress calls upon the Government to demonstrate a similar alacrity and patriotism toward the British citizens of the Chagos Islands as it did towards those in the South Atlantic.

207 BECTU was represented at the 2007 conference of the Wales TUC, held on 24-25 May 2007 in Llandudno, by David Bumford and Sin Gale.

SERTUC

208 BECTU’s delegation to the Southern & Eastern Region TUC consists of Tony Lennon, Jack Amos, Bill Whittemore (now retired), Phil Hooley, Philip Mills, Jenni Boswell-Jones and Tunji Akinsehinwa.

209 The Southern & Eastern Region TUC comprises two million plus trade unionists and is so large in area that it represents almost a third of the membership of the TUC. Jack Amos represents BECTU on its Executive Committee elected from SERTUC's Annual Meeting and Jenny Boswell-Jones, Phil Hooley and Phil Woods delegates to the Council. Jack Amos is the Region's representative on the Mayor's London Cultural Consortium that advises the Mayor on leisure, sport and all artistic pursuits within the capital. SERTUC has quarterly meetings with Ken Livingstone enabling individual unions to put any issues to him. Tony Lennon has outlined to the Mayor the effect that the BBC move to Salford would have on London's economy and in particular on the area around Television Centre. Tony has also addressed the Regional Council on the whole issue of the move, the cuts and redundancies within the BBC and has received full support from the affiliates to help with any action that BECTU may ask for.

210 In 2007, SERTUC campaigns, in particular, have centred on two main issues. The Anti-Racist Anti-Fascist Action Plan has, amongst other initiatives, printed 'pledge cards' to get the maximum unity of anti-racist organisations. In particular, it is working to get the black and ethnic minorities to use their votes in the forthcoming GLA elections to prevent the BNP gaining a seat in City Hall. Black History month, organised by SERTUC's Race Relations Committee, was very successful with presentations by the new president of the National Union of Teachers, Baljeet Ghale, and a talk about Shapurji Saklatvala, the MP for Battersea in the 1920s, and there was also a film showing of 'BBC Black Archives'.

211 The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics have also been at the forefront of activity. Much work has been done to try to secure the Living Wage for those working on the Olympics as well as a Protocol for Volunteers to protect them from being unpaid labour. BECTU is represented on the subcommittee on the Olympics, as apart from those working in broadcasting, there will be many of our members employed on all the artistic and creative aspects of the events. Industrially, SERTUC has been at the forefront of campaigns such as Remploy, the postal workers strike and support for those working in the NHS, to name just a few.

2012 Olympics

212 BECTU has been involved in several committees relating to the 2012 Olympics. Some of these committees are organised by the TUC and the Mayor of London, and the Training Committee is organised by Skillset on behalf of the DCMS. In addition to these external committees, BECTU's NEC has discussed on a regular basis issues which are likely to affect members during the Games and have also raised with UNI the possibility of agreeing with the appropriate bodies how members employed on the broadcast side of the games would be treated. Ongoing discussions are taking place regarding the future use of the Olympic Broadcast and Press Centre after the Games.

Federation of Entertainment Unions

213 The Federation of Entertainment Unions met on a number of occasions throughout the year. The FEU sub-committees met on an ad-hoc basis. The sub-committees cover Light Entertainment, Training and Diversity.

214 The FEU Diversity Committee made a proposal approved by the Federation to the London Development Agency for providing improved employment prospects and mentoring for black and Asian workers in broadcasting, film and the arts. At the time of writing this report the bid was being considered by the London Development Agency.

215 In addition, the Scottish FEU met to discuss matters of interest to members in Scotland throughout the year.

216 In December 2007 the FEU agreed a new structure which would be piloted throughout 2008. However, there would continue to be regular liaison meetings between the FEU and the key employers and regulators in our industry.

UNI-MEI and Euro-MEI

217 Internationally, BECTU continues to be active within UNI-MEI and Euro-MEI. President Tony Lennon represents BECTU on the World Executive Committee of UNI-MEI and General Secretary Gerry Morrissey represents BECTU on the World Executive Committee of Euro-MEI.

218 Lay representatives and officials represented BECTU at a number of conferences throughout 2007, most notably the General Assembly held in Madrid in 2007. Social dialogue continues to take place between the broadcast unions internationally and the European Broadcast Unions at which BECTU was represented by Assistant General Secretary Luke Crawley. A social dialogue also took place at the UK theatre employers' association with Pearle (the European performing arts employers' association), at which BECTU's representative was Supervisory Official Willy Donaghy.

IATSE

219 BECTU continues to have a close working relationship with our equivalent union in North America, IATSE, and sent fraternal messages of support to Local One during its dispute with Broadway theatres. Following International President Tom Short's address to BECTU's annual conference in 2007, Tony Lennon represented BECTU at the IATSE conference.

Directors' affairs

220 The 2007 meeting of the International Association of English Speaking Directors Organisations (IAESDO) took place in London. It was a key moment in the twenty-year rivalry between BECTU and the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) over representation of UK screen Directors.

221 Having spurned a generous unity offer from BECTU and Equity in 2006, the DGGB was disaffiliated from IAESDO and did not participate in the 2007 meeting. BECTU is now the sole UK trade union affiliate representing UK Directors' industrial interests. The Directors & Producers Rights Society (DPRS), the Directors' collecting society, is also affiliated to represent their interests as regards rights.

222 BECTU has worked with the DPRS in the Directors Forum where we meet with the broadcasters and producers to discuss directors' issues. It is a matter of record that the policy of the DPRS is to broaden its activities to cover issues such as pay and working conditions, and it has changed its name to Directors UK. We have made it clear that, while we value our relationship with them, and we respect their role as a collecting society and their expertise on rights, we will strenuously oppose any move on their part to start acting as a trade union.

Latin American Committee

223 In recent years the Latin American Committee has focussed much of its attention on Radio Zinica which is based on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in Bluefields. This culminated in the purchase of a transmitter in 2006 and since then we have been helping them with its installation as well as upgrading ancillary equipment. This will allow the station to continue with its work providing information and entertainment to the people of Bluefields. Anyone can listen to Radio Zinica which is now streamed over the internet at www.radiozinica.com.

224 Hurricane Felix hit the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua in September 2007. It missed Bluefields but came ashore 100 miles north at Bilwi , the regional capital, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. At least 101 people were killed with more than a hundred still missing. Radio Caribe, sister station to Radio Zinica, had lost its mast and cabling had also been damaged. The Committee felt that given the seriousness of the damage a donation of £500 was appropriate.

225 In 2007 we have been looking for other projects to support. We have become aware of a long term project to restore the Miramar Theatre in Havana. We have established contact with the Music Fund for Cuba, a UK-based charity which is supporting the restoration, and we have made a donation of £100 and intend to send material assistance and further funds to help with the work.

226 The Committee intends to continue to raise funds through organising social events at annual conference. The committee met twice in 2007 and has timetabled four meetings for 2008.

BECTU’s affiliations

227 BECTU has remained affiliated to the following organisations since annual conference in April 2007 (figures given are the latest available) [all figures in £ sterling]:

General Fund

Political Fund

228 At its meeting on 28 October 2007 the National Executive Committee agreed to affiliate to LabourStart, a website that promotes internationally the disputes and campaigns of trade unions.

Research

229 The main policy issues in the past year fall under the following broad subject headings.

Broadcasting

230 The future of public service broadcasting (PSB) is the subject of continuing debate. BECTU submitted comments to Ofcom on its proposal for a Public Service Publisher, while pointing out the prior need to secure the post-digital future of commercial PSB. We also provided a submission to the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry into Public Service Media Content.

231 A new focus for debate is the commencement of Ofcom’s Second PSB Review. BECTU has indicated early concerns on the Terms of Reference, on ITV’s parallel announcement of planned cuts in regional news services and on the need for Ofcom to subject these to close and critical scrutiny.

232 BECTU has been strongly opposed to BSkyB’s acquisition of a 17.9% stake in ITV. The union submitted evidence to three successive inquiries - by the Office of Fair Trading, Ofcom and the Competition Commission and has welcomed the Secretary of State's decision in January 2008 that the share acquisition is against the public interest and must be reduced below 7.5%.

233 Other policy issues on which BECTU has contributed policy submissions included the Future of Children’s Programming and - by means of a working group of members - Future Spectrum Access for the Programme-Making and Special Events Sector.

Film

234 The policy area of most concern has been the introduction of the new system of Tax Credits, which the union has continued to monitor in discussion with the Film Council.

235 A related development of particular relevance to the film industry is the introduction of a new ‘managed migration’ system to replace the existing work permit system for the use of non-EU labour. BECTU has been closely involved in developing a Code of Practice with the aim of protecting our domestic skillsbase under the new system (about which the union retains significant concerns).

Europe

236 BECTU was closely involved - both unilaterally and through Euro-MEI - in the debate on the European Commission’s Green Paper on Labour Law, which covers the key area of employment status and employment rights for freelances. This debate continues at European level.

237 The union has continued to convene meetings of the European Working Group, with the participation of Mary Honeyball MEP and other organisations from the FEU and elsewhere. Issues covered include the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (formerly Television Without Frontiers), European rules on state aid for film and broadcasting, the 48-hour opt out under the Working Time Directive, and the UNESCO Cultural Convention.

Employment law

238 Apart from the continuing debate on employment status at European level, a new development has been the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment. BECTU’s evidence emphasised the problems faced by freelance and casual workers and advocated a number of policy measures to resolve these.

Legal service

239 The operation of the legal service has been monitored at regular meetings with our lawyers Thompsons, including issues of cost, of new legal service regulations and of problem cases. Decisions on the referral of cases are taken at the regular meetings of the union’s Legal Panel.

240 The service has continued to win significant financial compensation for members in personal injury and employment cases as well as offering the 24-hour helpline and ancillary services such as will-making.

Copyright

241 BECTU’s work on copyright encompasses the Copyright Committee; our very effective copyright consultant Janet Ibbotson; our affiliations to the collecting societies DACS and DPRS, to the Alliance for the Protection of Copyright and to the British Copyright Council; casework for members; and the Script Registration Service.

242 Issues covered have included the further consultations following the Gowers Review, negotiating deals on rights, the position of wildlife filmmakers and the possibility of further copyright publications. Our consultant has contributed to the journal and to members’ meetings on copyright.

Health & safety

243 Health and Safety issues at the workplace are dealt with whenever possible by our network of Safety Representatives, backed up by full-time officials.

244 At national level, the union’s work on health and safety incorporates the National Health & Safety Committee of safety activists from all sectors of BECTU; the H&S Bulletin distributed to all Safety Reps, together with training courses, the website bulletin board, the asbestos register and the H&S Craft Cards; representation on relevant committees of the HSE, including JACE (the Joint Advisory Committee for the Entertainment Sector), the Training Working Group, a Working Party on Working Hours, and the Film Industry Safety Group.

245 Issues covered in the past year included: guidance for the music and entertainment industries on noise at work; new advice on paid time off for safety reps; tallescopes; monitoring of new legislation such as the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007; road traffic accidents after excessive working hours; and jimmy jib camera cranes.

Other issues

246 BECTU continues to play an active role in the issues of tax, national insurance and (via the Skillset Research Committee) the provision of labour market data for our sector.

Equality and diversity

Equality and Diversity Committee

247 The Equality and Diversity Committee (EDC) met four times in 2007.

248 The final role of the EDC in 2006 was to carry out the TUC Equality Audit on behalf of BECTU. This audit gives unions a chance to report on progress and showcase best practice. A statistical report based on the audit has been presented to the 2007 Trades Union Congress highlighting in 'Equality Successes' the annual BECTU Women's Conference.

249 Six women from across the BECTU divisions were very vocal at the TUC Women's Conference in Scarborough in March of this year, debating several issues including the portrayal of women in film and TV both in front and behind the camera, and the proposed closure of BBC workplace nurseries. The Federation of Entertainment Unions delegations also met up for a social event on the first evening and discussed how to work more closely together.

250 At BECTU annual conference 2007 the EDC carried out a survey on workplace sexual harassment, and also held the regular welcome to conference for new and returning delegates.

251 The equalities committees from the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) took out a joint advert in this years Pride magazine reaching over one million Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people across the UK this summer. This has raised our respective union profiles within the LGBT community.

252 EDC Member Al Garthwaite was asked by the TUC to speak on behalf of BECTU at a TUC/Amnesty conference in June entitled 'Working Together: Trade Unions campaigning to end violence against women'. The conference emphasised the need for a national strategy against violence against women. Al spoke about how domestic violence and sexual harassment affects women freelancers, giving examples from our industry, and what BECTU is doing about this. As always, the specific issues affecting freelance workers were new to many in the audience.

253 In July the FEU had a stall in Union City at the 'Rise' Festival in Finsbury Park in North London, an anti-racist music festival held yearly and organised by the Mayor's Office.

254 This years BECTU Women's Conference entitled 'Union Skills for Women - because we're worth it' took place over the weekend of 24 and 25 November 2007 in central London, attended by almost 50 women from all divisions. Speaker Lindsey German talked about the role of women in society and how equality is still a long way off. Women took part in workshops aimed at developing union skills, promoting personal safety and enhancing working lives. Two members from the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, Jo Livesey and Vanessa Eaves spoke about the reasons behind setting up a women's committee in their workplace, and how other women can do the same. These motivational speakers ended the weekend on a very positive note and women left feeling that there is every reason to become more involved with their workplace union activity.

255 Approximately 16 women from BECTU carried the BECTU banner through the streets of central London on the night of Saturday 24 November 2007 for 'Reclaim the Night' when women march for the right to walk the streets at night in safety and without fear. This was timed to coincide with the Women's Conference and meant we were able to have a strong delegation of women.

256 At the time of writing the EDC is working on a motion to go to the TUC Women's Conference in 2008 around maternity rights for freelance women. In partnership with the other equalities committees the EDC also has plans to develop a resources pack with information on equality issues for BECTU members.

Black Members Committee and Move on Up

257 The last year has seen the greatest amount of action on race equality in the history of BECTU's black members' committee.

258 Over the year BECTU held two Move on Up events for the film, television and news industries. In June we ran Move on Up 4 for film and television, and on 21 September 2007 we ran Move on Up in News, in partnership with the NUJ. During these two events we set up more than 1,200 one to one meetings between about 450 black and minority ethnic (BME) professionals and nearly 200 top executives.

259 The committee was delighted that the employers recognised the value of Move on Up in helping them access BME talent. The employers' support was such that both the BBC and ITN helped fund the News event, and the BBC in particular did a lot of work persuading and inviting other companies to participate and coordinating workshops.

260 We know that a lot of people got valuable opportunities as a result of their new contacts. A lot of people were invited back to studios, newsrooms and productions. Some got work experience or placements. And some did get jobs. We know of several who were taken on either as freelances, staff or on fixed term contracts by BBC local and regional radio stations, Radio 5 Live, Independent Radio News, ITV, BBC Television and independent production companies.

261 The report of the independent evaluator for Move on Up North and Move on Up in Radio, both of which took place in 2006, indicated that about 50% of those who returned their tracking questionnaires several months afterwards reported that they had in fact obtained paid work as a result of the event. And if offers of shadowing and requests to send in more ideas are added, the positive outcomes rise to about 80%. This is a phenomenal achievement.

262 Clearly what the black members' committee really wants is to encourage the widest adoption of fair selection procedures, key among these being advertising of vacancies. After five Move on Up events we now have a database of nearly 1,000 BME audiovisual professionals and so we have invited the employers to email their vacancies to us for forwarding to the Move on Up list. BBC Radio and BBC Wales are doing this regularly and we are expecting BBC television (Vision) to begin to do this. Following a discussion at Move on Up in News ITN sent us the 56 vacancies they are advertising for jobs needed to set up the Setanta Sports News channel which ITN has won the contract to produce. Channel 4 is now regularly sending details of opportunities such as the summer school and bursaries. They report a substantial increase in applications from BME professionals following their use of the Move on Up list.

263 In the light of the enthusiastic cooperation between employers and the union in Move on Up in Radio in October 2006, BECTU invited the radio industry to set up the Radio Industry Diversity Group. Its first meeting took place at BECTU head office. The chair is from BBC Radio 4, the vice-chair is from commercial radio and the secretary is from BECTU. BECTU successfully obtained funding from the Equal Fund and the BBC Diversity Centre to fund a part-time fixed-term contract worker to take the RIDG group's work forward.

264 Arising from Move on Up 4, during which 75 BME professionals requested a meeting with one BBC Films representative, we suggested that BBC Films might like to run a seminar for the 75. They agreed to this and it was announced at Move on Up. This took place in early November.

265 Another initiative arising from these events is the Film Industry Mentoring Scheme in which 25 BME professionals will be mentored by 25 top film people, five each drawn from PACT, the Writers Guild, the Production Managers' Association, the Production Guild and the British Society of Cinematographers. This was delayed due to communications problems with the funders but it is hoped that the project will be taken forward in 2008.

266 We have had follow-up discussions with the BBC and ITN about the successful event Move on Up in News. George Alagiah, who spoke alongside Sir Trevor McDonald at Move on Up in News, has been so supportive of our initiative that he has written a letter to every BME participant to give encouragement and asking them to let us know about their progress.

267 The black members' committee is very keen to encourage other unions to take similar action. So last year BECTU proposed the setting up of the FEU equality committee. Janice Turner was elected chair and Kate Elliott was elected vice-chair. Though this committee only meets four times a year it has proved extremely successful in building more cooperation between the FEU unions on diversity and equality, such as joint activities at the Gay Pride and Rise festivals.

268 BECTU's black members' committee wanted to go further, and so BECTU invited the MU, Equity and the NUJ to join with us to put together a two-year diversity programme across our sectors. They agreed.

269 The NUJ was a partner with BECTU in organising the Radio and News events and wishes to organise a Move on Up event for newspapers. Equity would like to take action on portrayal and integrated casting with a Move on Up type event for BME actors. The Musicians' Union wants to address the issue within the classical music sphere and BBC Radio is keen to get involved in this. The radio industry would like another radio event; we have had requests for another news event; and there is a widespread assumption that there will be another film and television event. The committee wishes to take more action in theatres - substantially delayed by footdragging at the Arts Council of England - and we have been approached by MOBO (Music of Black Origin) to work with them to address under-representation within music publishing and recording, where they say BME workers represent about 1% of the workforce. Also we have been asked to look at the computer games industry which might work well in the context of BECTU's attempts to recruit and organise in that sector. A substantial, detailed, costed FEU/Mobo diversity programme was submitted to the London Development Agency at the end of the year.

270 One key policy held up as best practice by the Commission for Racial Equality is that of ethnic monitoring, and this data is extremely useful to BECTU in identifying where the biggest problems lie in the industry. Ofcom's predecessor the ITC used to publish detailed diversity figures for every licence holder within its remit. Ofcom, despite having greater legal obligations with regard to racial equality, has refused BECTU's request to do so. The union has therefore taken their refusal to the government's Information Commissioner for adjudication. However, we have concluded that Ofcom has taken a policy decision that they do not wish to publish this data, so BECTU has written to the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights urging them to investigate Ofcom's actions which we believe are incompatible with their obligations under the Race Relations Act.

271 Finally, the committee wholeheartedly welcomed and applauded the divisions' substantial recruitment work during Move on Up events. While half the committee's strategy concerns the industry, the other half is a determination to increase BME membership and representation within BECTU.

272 A comparison of the unions' ethnic monitoring statistics for the membership between May 2003, before the first Move on Up was organised, and December 2007 shows that recruitment of ethnic minority members has increased on all possible measures. Black and minority ethnic members represented 5.7% of the 6,081 members whose ethnicity was known in 2003. In December 2007 this had increased to almost 7% of the 11,491 whose ethnicity was known. However, in the divisions that benefited most from Move on Up representation increased to 7.3%.

273 Known BME representation in the London Production division more than doubled from 89 to 253. In the Regional Production division it more than tripled, from 21 to 70. However, known BME membership has increased substantially in all divisions of the union during this time.

274 The committee believes that Move on Up has contributed to positive changes within the industries as whole and within the union's own membership. Although there is still a mountain to climb, BECTU has a great deal to celebrate.

Disabled Members Network

275 At the AGM of the BECTU Disabled Members Network Committee on 11 May 2007, Ann Pointon retired as chair as part of her general retirement from activity in the union. Ann had chaired the committee since its establishment following the amalgamation in 1991 of ACTT and BETA, and before that she had been the leading figure in ACTT's disability activities. The union will greatly miss her knowledge and expertise, though as a life member of the union Ann will remain 'on call' for advice. Her successor as chair is Jane Perry (BBC division), with Turlough MacDaid (A&E) as vice chair.

276 The committee was disappointed to learn in May 2007 that the RNIB had withdrawn from a proposed Disability in the Media project in which it would have been a partner with BECTU in a Move on Up-style event for disabled people in, or trying to enter, the media. Though the committee had obtained the support of both Mark Thompson and Brendan Barber, the event, which had been scheduled for 1 November 2007 at Congress House, had to be shelved.

277 Also in May 2007, disabled film maker Daniel Cormack [no relation to David Cormack] published an article in Stage Screen & Radio recounting his experiences of the barriers faced by a disabled director trying to break into mainstream programming. Daniel's work has now been broadcast and featured at several international festivals, and he has been invited to meet the committee to give an up-date.

278 The committee submitted a motion to the 2007 TUC Disability Conference critical of the lack of communication between Conferences from the TUC Disability Committee. At the platform's request, the motion was withdrawn, but not before it had been spoken on and sparked some debate.

279 Turlough MacDaid, the committee's vice-chair, was BECTU's delegate to the 2007 Scottish TUC Disabled Workers Conference, and was re-elected to the STUC Disabled Workers Committee.

280 The committee welcomed Kate Larsen from the Shape 'Open the Door' campaign to its meeting in July 2007. As a result information on how Shape can offer arts and media workplaces free or low-cost advice on access audits and adjustments for deaf and disabled workers is now regularly provided to BECTU's officials.

281 In September 2007 the NEC endorsed the committee's recommendation that BECTU should sponsor and lead a workshop session at the 2008 Disability Film Festival on the South Bank, on the theme of employment and training.

282 The committee has continued to monitor the accessibility of the union's buildings, website and publications, and to act as a conduit for consultation with, and feedback from, the union's disabled members. In December 2007 it launched a publicity initiative to run in 2008 entitled 'There's nothing wrong with being disabled!' aimed at raising the Network's profile, recruiting more disabled members into the union, and campaigning more effectively for disability rights in the workplace.

Education and training

Training Committee

283 The Training Committee is a sub-committee of the NEC and has responsibility for overseeing the education and training activity of BECTU, representing the interests of members and accounting to the NEC.

284 The members of the committee are: Ann Jones RPD (chair), John Handley RPD, Sin Gale RPD (reserve), Lezli Everitt LPD, Martin Roberts A&E, Maurice Marshal A&E (reserve), Sebastian Barnes A&E, Charlotte Simon BBC (reserve), Mark Scrimshaw BBC, Winston Phillips BBC. Further delegates from IB and LPD are being sought and will be attending the committee from its January 2008 meeting.

285 Following a period of inactivity the Training Committee reformed and started meeting regularly from July 2007. There is an expended membership of two members per division plus reserves. Membership will be further expanded in the future by the co-opting of active ULRs and others onto the Committee. The by-laws have been updated and a number of successful meetings held.

286 There is a full timetable of meetings planned for 2008 and amongst priorities will be an audit of BECTU members active on external education and training bodies. There will also be a review of policies and positions on education and training issues to aid the formulation of public BECTU policies.

287 The external bodies in which we have participated during 2004 include: Skillset committees for film skills, TV skills, interactive media and computer games; Skillset Regional Skills panels; Scottish Audio-visual Development Group; Scottish Industries Skills Panel; Skillset Cymru; FT2; Arts and Entertainment Technical Training Initiative (AETTI); Skillscene (formerly TTTS); Association of British Theatre Technicians Education Committee (ABTT); Cultural and Creative Industries Sector Skills Council (CCskills); FEU Training Committee; TUC National Training Network.

FT2

288 FT2 (Freelance Training for Film and TV) remains the pre-eminent new entrants training scheme in the industry. It is a partnership between BECTU, PACT and key Industry partners including, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and representatives from the film industry. Training Officer Brian Kelly became Chair of the board in November 2007 and the other BECTU board members are Peter Cox (NEC and LPD) and Tim Potter (LPD).

289 The central challenge for the partnership remains the diversion of funding away from work-based new entrants schemes such as FT2. In particular, the support of main funder Skillset is insufficient to guarantee continuation of the organisation beyond mid 2008. The board continue to search for new funded activities and new sources of funding for existing activities. AGS Martin Spence has launched a campaign in defence of work-based learning in the film and TV industry.

Skillset

290 BECTU continue to be active in the work of Skillset, with Martin Spence on the board and the Film Skills Committee, Sharon Elliott on the TV skills committee and Willie Leslie on the games committee. Following the very sad death of SO Rob Newland there is a vacancy for BECTU representation on the interactive media skills committee. David Donovan was on the Skillset Cymru committee but has stepped down for a period while the work and it is value is re-assessed. Brian Kelly sits on the Scottish Industry Skills Panel. All representatives have worked to ensure that the interests of workers (in particular current workers in the industry) are promoted in addition to those of employers.

291 The major work of 2006 has been to ensure that the funds raised by the industry are fairly invested and supporting the development of the new academy structure for universities and colleges as a way of ensuring that qualifications are more relevant to real work.

292 On a disappointing note, we were unable to convince Skillset Cymru to support a bid to the Wales Union Learning Fund enabling a FEU project to recruit freelance learning reps and broker training courses for members. The bid had support from the Skillset Academy Wales, Music Foundation, CCskills and other FEU constituents.

Creative and Cultural Skills

293 CCskills is the Sector Skills Council for the creative and cultural industries. The sector includes our theatre technician members and also potential members in the live music/performance sector. Training Officer, Brian Kelly sat on the steering group for the submission of a business plan for a National Skills Academy (NSA) for technical theatre and live music. At the time of writing a decision is awaited from the government. BECTU members are also active on local/regional consortia of the NSA.

294 Work has started with the TUC/unionlearn bringing all the unions with members in CCskills sector together to try and influence the development of the Sector Skills Agreement which is an action plan to raise skills levels. Brian Kelly sits on this committee with Willy Donaghy and Kate Elliott as reserve.

295 Brian Kelly also sits on the board of Skillscene for BECTU which now has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop all SSC work on the production of National Occupational Standards (NOS). Working with SO Willy Donaghy , NO Willie Lesslie and the West End branch, Brian Kelly has produced a draft grading structure for SOLT employees that is the subject for negotiation. It will be based on the NOS developed by Skillscene and signed off by CCskills.

Other activity

296 Elsewhere, Kate Elliott represents BECTU on the ABTT education committee, and Yvonne Smith sits on the committee of 'Women in Digital Entertainment' at the University College of the Creative Arts (UCCA). Once again, Brian Kelly represented the union at numerous TUC/unionlearn bodies and committees. John Crumpton has worked with Northwest Vision and media, Unionlearn in the North West and Yorkshire.

Communications

297 We have started mass emailing relevant members with information when received - for example members of the Scottish freelance branch with a special offer from Skillset Scotland. 2008 will see the Completion of the BECTU learning website that will finally be publicly launched in February. This will contain a mass of information about courses, workshops, events and subsidies for training.

Stage Screen & Radio

298 It's been another year of change for the journal, with Ruby Ali taking over the acting editorship from Rebecca Wingate-Saul in July, while Janice Turner remains seconded to the Move on Up programme. The magazine has benefited from these changes and has been able to develop and gather fresh input from new sources.

299 Stage Screen & Radio continues to bring members vital news of what's happening in the union's different sectors. One highlight during the past 12 months was last summer's colourful strike at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton over the pitiful wages staff continue to endure. The active branch put their creative skills to good use and pulled off a well-attended day of action to coincide with the premier of the new Pirates of the Caribbean film, complete with pirates, drums and carnival atmosphere, which secured strong public support.

300 The magazine brought freelances attention to Ofcom's plans to sell-off vital parts of spectrum located between television channels, affecting many small-scale sound operators and helped galvanise the sector to act before government made its decision.

301 Other campaigns the magazine got behind included the fight to stop budgets being slashed on BBC's documentary strand Storyville and saving Children's TV. However, the story that dominated the last few months of 2007 and which will continue to affect workers for months to come was the new round of redundancies at the BBC

302 With a less then expected licence fee from the government job losses at the BBC were to be expected but the scale of the cuts and the focus on News and Factual as the biggest victims of the scale-down took everyone by surprise. BECTU along with the NUJ and Unite joined forces to campaign against the cutbacks and with strike action made the corporation realise it had a fight on its hands.

303 This was just one of the BBC's problems, preceded as it had by a summer of crisis for all the major broadcasters embroiled in scandal after scandal and controversy, which began with footage of the Queen 'storming out' of a photo session in a documentary about her which proved to be somebody being a little too creative with their editing skills. There were bogus competition winners, phone-in scandals where callers were duped into calling in when winners had already been picked. The result of which were sackings, disciplinary hearings and resignations as management pleaded ignorance to any knowledge of what was going on and rounded on more junior staff.

304 Earlier in the year there was the sudden death of union official Rob Newland, with tributes flowing in for this much-liked man.

305 There was a very successful Move On Up event in News and an equally successful and inspiring Women's Conference, the fourth one, which this year was held over two days in London, attracting women from all over the country and the union's divisions. The first North West Fair was held in Manchester, and Stage Screen & Radio covered the media development Mediacity in Salford where several BBC departments will be relocating and the implication for union members in the South and North.

306 Ongoing issues this year have been the 2012 Olympics and the redirecting of cash which should have gone to the arts. The impact has already begun with smaller theatres closing and larger theatres entertaining the idea of Sunday opening to make up the shortfall.

Scotland and Wales

Scottish Committee

307 The Scottish Committee met three times during the year and campaigned and lobbied on a range of issues affecting BECTU members in Scotland. It continues to work closely with the SFEU and STUC on a broad range of issues bringing them to the attention of the Scottish Parliament and other agencies.

308 The committee sent delegates to the STUC congress and STUC Women’s Conference putting forward and supporting a range of motions on fair employment practices and funding issues within the Theatre Film and TV industries.

Wales Committee

309 The Area Committee in Wales met twice this year to facilitate motions and amendments to the agenda of the Wales TUC Conference as well as to recommend delegates to BECTU's National Executive Committee.

Appendix A

Propositions carried and remitted at the 2007 Conference [80k pdf]

Appendix B

Income and expenditure forecast 2008 [49k pdf]

Appendix C

Statistical breakdown of membership [73k pdf]

Appendix D

BECTU and the environment [81k pdf]

Appendix E

Filming and editing resources [60k pdf]

Last updated 31 March 2008