New agreement for TV Drama goes live

A new agreement for freelancers working in TV drama comes into force on 1 December 2017.

30 November 2017

A new collective agreement for TV drama production comes into force on Friday 1 December. It is the first such agreement since 2003 and marks a "massive step forward for production crew" according to national secretary, Spencer MacDonald.

BECTU and Pact, the producers' association, are signatories to the agreement which is the result of some two years work. The agreement was approved by 97.4% of members, across all departments, who took part in the ballot held in May this year. 

The agreement gives greater certainty to production crew, the vast majority of whom are  freelancers, in terms of day/night hours, rest periods, travel, meal breaks, holiday entitlement, cancellation and more. The document also includes a substantial statement on bullying and harassment, the importance of which is amplified by the Weinstein scandal. The Deal Memo  - the basic statement of terms which everyone engaged on a TV drama production should receive - is incorporated into the new comprehensive agreement.

TV Drama and more ...

Whilst the agreement will be known as the TV Drama agreement, productions covered by it will include "scripted single television drama and scripted series/serial drama excluding continuing drama/soaps, across all platforms produced in the UK, including children's drama produced in the UK, narrative comedy produced in the UK, shorts produced in the UK and pilots produced in the UK." Location filming as part of any production caught by the agreement will also be covered unless expressly excluded. 

Speaking in May, when the agreement was signed, head of BECTU, Gerry Morrissey, said:

"I am satisfied that our negotiating team have reached the best deal for our members that can be achieved through negotiations. The terms in this agreement represent some significant improvements for some departments and we are confident that BECTU members will not suffer any loss of established terms. 

"The absence of such an agreement over many years has resulted in a deterioration of workers terms and conditions. One of the biggest problems that our members have complained of for many years is the practice of them being expected to start work without any formal agreement on their terms. 

"Under this agreement, the crew on a TV Drama will have a full statement of their terms and conditions at the start of a production period. They will be provided with a "deal memo" that details pay rates, hours, planned locations and other important conditions."

Now the union is focused on expanding the industry's understanding of the agreement and encouraging its use. Our colleagues in Pact will be doing the same. 

Conrad Mewton, senior business affairs executive, at PACT said:

"We are delighted that we are now launching the new agreement with BECTU, and to have such strong endorsement for it from members of both of our organisations. We firmly believe that it will be of great benefit to everyone in our industry.”

The next big challenge for BECTU and Pact will be to agreed a schedule of rates. 

Download the TV Drama agreement

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