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8 October 2014

BECTU and the Canadian Media Guild issued the following press release today in support of workers in non-fiction TV. The release coincides with the first Realscreen conference in London, taking place at TUC Congress House on 8-9 October.

Unions join forces to push for better working conditions in non-fiction TV

LONDON, UK. Unions representing non-fiction TV workers in Canada and the UK are joining forces this week to highlight the problems with working conditions in the sector.

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and BECTU are delivering principles aimed at improving the situation to production and broadcast executives attending Realscreen, an industry conference taking place on October 8 and 9 at the TUC’s London Congress Centre.

Workers in the UK and Canada have reported similar concerns about unreasonable working hours, unpaid time and lack of safety in non-fiction/factual production.

“Right now, this is an unsustainable sector of the production industry,” says Carmel Smyth, national president of the Canadian Media Guild. “People are burning out and getting hurt. They’re telling us they want a voice and standards so they can earn a living making programming for years to come. We’re eager to sit down with production companies and discuss how to make it better.”

The principles the two unions are presenting are modeled on the Code of Practice that BECTU developed in 2013 to improve working conditions for factuals workers in the UK.

Key principles

“Factual production is an increasingly important part of UK, and now global, broadcast content and yet working conditions remain sub-standard. Excessive working hours, inadequate rest time and poor health and safety management continue to top the list of workers concerns here in the UK.

"It’s time for all employers in the sector to take their responsibilities more seriously. The industry talks about production values .. that should also include the ethics of programme-making from the workers’ point of view,” said Sharon Elliott, BECTU’s communications officer.

Together the unions are seeking the following commitments from production companies:

  • Pay people fairly for the work they do
  • Reasonable working hours
  • Reasonable time off, including appropriate paid time off
  • Make the safety and health of everyone involved a top priority for each production and make sure everyone has what they need to work safely (including, where appropriate, quality, affordable health insurance)
  • Negotiate terms with workers and/or their union in good faith and a timely manner. Seal it with a written contract.
  • No penalties or reprisals against workers who are represented by a union or guild.


For more information on the unions’ campaign activity see: 

CMG website:

BECTU website:

BECTU's Code of Practice:

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