Posted by BECTU Communications on 22 March 2019
I'm really excited about the launch of our first Freelancers Week which starts today. During the week we'll be shining a spotlight on the work that BECTU does to support and advise our freelance members.
It is clear that this growing workforce is in need of union representation to maintain and improve work life and conditions, particularly experienced by freelancers who often face a raft of issues from not being paid on time to long hours and bullying. Our work helps to lessen the sense of isolation that freelancers can experience.
Organising our freelance members by their craft across TV, film, live events, theatre and the arts, we undertake three key missions to help freelance workers stand up for themselves, and for each other.
Firstly, we organise freelance workers collectively to change the terms and conditions in the industry. Our branches find out what members care about, they elect representatives and send them to negotiations and, as a result, we have inked two major agreements in TV Drama and Major Motion Pictures in recent years to supplement existing agreements supporting Film Set Construction and Supporting Artists. They publish ratecards, and they work to encourage colleagues- both inside and outside the union - to stick to them, and they run Grading Schemes that safeguard skill-levels and safety in their parts of the industry.
Secondly, we work to change the norms in the creative industries. For example we’ve been campaigning in the film and TV industry on issues like long hours, bullying, harassment and discrimination, as well as campaigning to improve conditions for junior grades and new entrants. As part of this work, we do training workshops for active BECTU members to help them understand these issues and challenge abuses when they happen.
Thirdly, we recognise than none of this can happen unless workers in the industry can stand up for themselves more effectively. We offer information, training, workshops and advice to help individual freelance workers become more confident, resilient and knowledgeable about ensuring that they are treated with respect. BECTUs work to negotiate agreements and change the industry norms can only succeed if freelances can see themselves as more equal partners in the negotiations that they do every day around their working hours and rates.
For this reason, we are touring the U.K. with workshops designed to help people understand the agreements, discover how they can ensure that their working hours and breaks are respected properly, and learn how to negotiate their rates more effectively. We are also doing sessions on how to stand up to bullying in all of its forms.
This, along with the benefits of union membership - low cost essential freelance insurances, our ‘EarlyBird’ guide to future work (with March's edition being made free to everyone during the week), our freelance tax guidance and the Monies Owed service, personalised legal representation and guidance that we offer to everyone who is a member - mean that BECTU offers a lot of value to anyone who is working as a freelancer in film, TV, theatre and the arts.
Keep your eyes peeled throughout the week for all of our freelance support, resources and find more about the work that we do. There is also an opportunity for new freelance members to sign-up during Freelancers Week with a specially discounted rate ofjust £7.50 per month. Find out more here https://www.bectu.org.uk/get-involved/join-bectu
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