Workers vote for groundbreaking feature film agreement

14 November 2017

UK feature film workers have made an historic vote in support of a collective agreement for Major Motion Pictures.

The Pact/BECTU agreement covers crew engaged on productions with budgets equal to or in excess of £30million pounds. It is the first of its kind in the UK and will be implemented on 2 April 2018.

Decisive vote

The decisive vote, with a massive majority of 87.61% of freelance members voting yes, sends a resounding message to the industry that the vast majority of workers believe this agreement is a major step forward.  

The negotiations have been extensive and wide-ranging, spanning a period of five years. Workers at all levels, working in departments including camera, lighting, costume, hair and make-up, locations, art department, props and more, will have the benefit of a substantial collective agreement in a major step forward for the industry.

Benefits for workers

The agreement includes payments for night work, overtime, 6th & 7th consecutive days working, Time off the Clock (TOC), meal break penalties, restricted prep & wrap and the removal of the grace period.

For prep & wrap workers it marks a significant improvement. Currently, while a film will typically ask for an hour each side of the day included in the rate, the new agreement caps this to a maximum of thirty minutes on each side of the day.  

Figures drawn up by BECTU’s Costume and Wardrobe branch highlight the palpable benefit of this prep & wrap adjustment: a member of this department working a 10 hour day with one hour prep and one hour wrap will move from earning £270 a day to £319 after the agreement’s implementation.

Spencer MacDonald, BECTU national secretary, said:

“This is an historic vote and the very first UK national agreement covering crew on Major Motion Pictures. The agreement details workers rights and protections and forms part of a growing industry that continues to attract record levels of inward investment. This surge in production levels is being fuelled by Hollywood studios choosing to utilise our members’ services. Therefore, for the first time the talent, skills and expertise of our members will be recognised in a detailed collective agreement.

"Our members have demanded in the past that they want to be listened too – now they have a vehicle for their voice to be heard. As a result this benefits not just our members but every section of the British film industry.”

A continually improving agreement

The agreement has been welcomed across the industry and is the result of a successful partnership between union reps, producers and employers' associations.

To ensure it is maintained regular reviews have been written into the document. BECTU is confident that this provides the basis for a continually improving collective agreement, which will lead to long-term solutions for freelancers and producers.

Max Rumney, deputy CEO at Pact, said:

"The Pact/BECTU collective agreement for the engagement of crew on the production of Major Motion Pictures represents a significant step-forward in industrial relations. It standardises and makes transparent terms and conditions of work, which helps to ensure fairness in contracting, as well as putting in place a platform for crew and producers to raise employment concerns."

Iain Smith, chair, British Film Commission, said:

“In order to continue to build on the considerable success the British film production industry has enjoyed these past few years, it is crucial to have industrial stability. We are all a part of this success, and all of us must continue to work together, to understand and respect the issues that affect us, and to maximise the benefit of working together to protect our industry. This agreement is a huge step forward and I congratulate all of you who worked so hard to achieve this happy result.”

Alison Small, chief executive, The Production Guild, said:

“The Pact/BECTU agreement for major feature films allows for crew and producers alike to have clarity around the terms and conditions of employment on these films which is very positive. The negotiation process has demanded a great deal of communication between producers and crew about the issues that face production, and now those communication channels are open, we can all work to ensure the agreement is working effectively, through an ongoing dialogue. I would personally like to thank the Production Guild members who have been working to support the negotiations and for getting us to this point of having a new industry agreement.”

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