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Help us to design a cooperative agency for freelances

16 November 2009

BECTU is inviting members to help the union to develop its plans for a cooperative agency for freelance workers.

As previously reported, BECTU has secured funding from the Union Modernisation Fund for a feasibility study into a possible new cooperative agency for the entertainment industry.

This is a unique opportunity to explore how an agency that works in the interests of the workers might look. It might be similar to existing agencies or it might be completely different

The feasibility study will be run with support from Co-operatives UK.

Upfront fees to be banned in 2010

Last week the long-running campaign by BECTU and Equity to outlaw upfront fees bore fruit with the announcement by BIS of new measures to ban the practice.

The changes, due to come into effect in October 2010, " will see new rules banning agencies from taking upfront fees from models, background artists, extras and walk-ons .....[and] will tackle the unscrupulous agents that represent the less appealing face of the modelling and entertainment industry," said Pat McFadden, business minister. 

The government's decision concludes a consultation into the operation of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003.  Read BECTU's submission.

Agency shortcomings

The union's feasibility study will address a number of shortcomings in the current system to determine what a better agency model, designed with workers in mind,  could look like.

At a fundamental level, the focus group will review the need for agency representation, which is obligatory for some grades, as well as the inclination of agencies to concentrate on their more lucrative clients at the expense of those whose careers are not so established.

Diversity is also a major concern, too, as some highly skilled and qualified black and minority ethnic workers have been unable to secure agency representation.

BECTU official Spencer MacDonald said:

“We are looking to involve people with a general interest in the area as well as those who would particularly like to take part in the focus group. We also need a broad range of people from across the sectors we cover: people who aren’t established in their careers as well as those who are; and people with or without agency representation.

"This is a unique opportunity to explore how an agency that works in the interests of the workers might look. It might be similar to existing agencies or it might be completely different."

Any successful agency relies on the support of employers so BECTU will also be establishing a focus group of employers.

To get involved email your contact details to mdavis@bectu.org.uk or telephone Marcelle Davis on 020 7346 0900.

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