the media and entertainment union
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Workforce says family life is damaged by long hours in film & TV

28 August 2018

As the #EyesHalfShut campaign against long hours in film and TV moves ahead, BECTU is highlighting the damage the industry is doing to family life.

A new factsheet Long Hours Working Hurts Whole Families is available along with campaign materials and research which shows how hard families are being hit by the long hours culture.

Huge injustice

Emily Collin, organising official, said:

“This issue is often forgotten. We are all conscious of the dangers relating to driving after long days, or the health risks caused by these excessive working patterns, but there is also a huge injustice that hits the families of people who work in the industry as well as the crews themselves.

"Our surveys have shown that BECTU members, as well as non-members, understand why we need to get this issue out into the open. Injury to family life was rated the second most damaging consequence of long hours working across all branches and departments, second only to the danger of driving after long hours.

"The entertainment industries have always been notorious for their high divorce rate and the consequences are not just felt by people who work in the industry. Partners and children also suffer.”

BECTU members have been in contact with the union demanding that this issue be placed front-and-centre in the #EyesHalfShut campaign. In particular, women have stressed the way that this culture affects them disproportionately – whether they work in the industry themselves, or if they have a spouse working these long hours.

“As a woman and single parent I can confirm our industry discriminates against us…none of my childminders work my hours. My child has to have two (sometimes three) different childminders per day.” - Victoria, script supervisor

“I am a father but there is often an assumption that I am only kidding when I say I need to go home for childcare, and that with a bit of pressure my wife can take over.” Anon, director, Scotland.

Children are suffering too

Children also suffer. “Lost parenting” has consequences with researchers drawing links between parents working long hours and damage to educational standards and spikes in juvenile delinquency. One study has even linked higher incidences of young adults with STDs to families where parenting has been damaged by long hours working.

“Both my husband and I are editors; we constantly don’t feel ‘present’ enough in our children’s lives to the point that we have to consider completely changing careers.” -  Rachael, Editor

Emily Collin continued:

“Our Eyes Half Shut campaign started when film editors approached the union to talk about having to contact their children on Skype to avoid whole weeks without contact. This is tragic and totally unnecessary. Similarly, Art Department produced a well researched document about how these excessive hours negatively impact productivity and affect moral.  An issue productions should take note of.  Members agree, these hours are counter-productive in an industry that should be aspiring to be in a race to the top in terms of quality and talent. 

“ We know the industry has an issue with losing talent; women in particular are forced to choose to have a family or a career and are dropping out in droves because of the unsustainable work-life imbalance. Long hours are inherently sexist.  We need to get employers around the table now, focussed on practical solutions to this problem to benefit both productions and members – and the more people who care about this issue and who sign our ‘Eyes Half Shut’ petition, the better.”

BECTU members are encouraged to sign the petition and to share the union’s campaign materials as widely as possible on social media. www.bectu.org.uk/eyeshalfshut

For more information on how your branch can support the ‘family life’ strand of the #EyesHalfShut campaign, please contact Emily Collin ecollin@bectu.org.uk or 0207 346 0900.

Get involved

Sign the petition: www.bit.ly/eyes-petition

Campaign info: www.bectu.org.uk/eyeshalfshut

Campaign Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bectueyeshalfshut

Join BECTU and get involved www.bectu.org.uk/join

Share info or your stories on social media using the hashtag:#eyeshalfshut

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