Dame Carolyn McCall CEO ITV arrives at AGM confronted by Andrew Greenberg photo credit Andrew Wiard
10 May 2018
Members of BECTU and the Writers Guild of America East joined forces on Thursday 10 May in a successful protest at the ITV Shareholders' Meeting in central London.
Protesters lobbying the meeting engaged with ITV stakeholders, successfully raising the issue of diversity and placing it centrally on the agenda.
BECTU issued the following release on Tuesday 2 May on behalf of the Writers' Guild of America East.
ITV diversity problems extend to US – BECTU backs 10 May protest at ITV's London AGM
ITV is in the hot-seat as it heads into its Thursday 10 May Annual General Meeting amid concerns about diversity and the treatment of women employees within its production operations in the UK, as well as in America.
In the US, ITV’s management received a letter from a group of diverse employees who painted a disturbing picture of how the company treats women and people of colour.
Claims of discrimination and unequal pay
Tiffany Magby, one of the letter signees who has since left the company, explained: “We wrote to ITV management as a group of women of colour to inform them about what we consider systematic discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and overtime violations that we experienced while working on two of the company’s most prominent programmes.
“We called for both equal pay with our white male colleagues and opportunities for growth at ITV, specifically at the field producer level, which is currently almost exclusively held by men.”
Ms Magby and staff of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), as well as members of BECTU, the UK's media and entertainment union, and the Writers Guild of Great Britain, will protest at ITV’s Annual General Meeting on 10 May at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE.
Repeated call for union recognition
The action calls on ITV to enter a collective bargaining agreement with the WGAE, just as other US non-fiction TV production companies have done. The Guild has proposed contract terms that would directly address the concerns raised by Ms Magby and her former colleagues at the company.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said: “ITV’s new CEO Carolyn McCall and investors should be deeply troubled by its production operations in the US, which have been touted as one of the company’s key sources of profit and growth.
“In the US, ITV employees overwhelmingly voted to unionise because they believe the best way to get management to address their pressing concerns is through a collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately, ITV has done nothing but stall and resist as employees’ concerns about working conditions and protections continue to mount.”
Gerry Morrissey, head of the BECTU Sector of Prospect, said: “We have appealed on several occasions to ITV plc to develop a constructive relationship with WGAE to echo the relationship the company has with BECTU here in the UK. We believe the company’s resistance to engaging with the WGAE reflects badly on the company’s management.
“That’s why we’re proud to support representatives of the WGAE when they visit London on 10 May to lobby ITV shareholders. Whether here in the UK or in the US, we’re in the business of communication and we live in a democracy.
“If the company values its reputation, ITV management will sit down soon with the WGAE to discuss members’ concerns.”
The WGAE has worldwide support, including from UNI Global Union, an organisation of more than 900 unions in the services sectors, including media and entertainment, representing more than 20 million working people across the globe.
UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings recently wrote to ITV CEO McCall, saying: “UNI Global Union believes that multi-national media companies such as ITV must honour the labour standards in the nations in which it conducts operations.
“This includes honouring the provisions of the standard collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the unions in those nations. Unfortunately, in the United States ITV has taken the opposite path, at least in its unscripted/nonfiction television units. This is simply not the way to do business in an industry that relies on its professional employees to create and distribute content.”
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ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labour union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programmes, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org
The BECTU Sector of Prospect is the UK’s media and entertainment union and has recognition agreements with employers across the creative sectors. The union represents staff and freelancers working in broadcasting, film, theatre and live events and allied areas. BECTU has a long-standing collective bargaining agreement with ITV plc.
Notes to Editors
Prospect represents 140,000 members in the public and private sectors working as engineers, scientists, managers and specialists in areas as diverse as agriculture, communications, defence, entertainment, energy, environment, heritage, industry, media and transport. It is the largest union in the UK representing professional engineers. It has over 30,000 members working for government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
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This article was updated on 11 May 2018.