New PACT deal accepted

Freelance members have voted in favour of a new agreement on terms and conditions.

In a postal ballot more than 95% of those voting backed a package of changes to BECTU's agreement with the Producers' Association for Cinema and Television, the organisation representing employers in the industry.

Union negotiators had recommended that members should accept radical changes to the existing PACT agreement, including:

  • A 5% pay rise, plus new help for the lowest paid grades;
  • An employer contribution to freelance pensions;
  • Improved accident & medical insurance cover when working abroad;
  • Clearer procedures on contract paperwork.

Under the new agreement, producers may now pay below the recommended rates, so long as all other conditions are respected, and so long as existing established rates are not destabilised.

This move away from guaranteed rates, which caused controversy during the negotiations, was endorsed by the union as a change which would encourage film and television producers to apply the PACT agreement when hiring staff.

BECTU's negotiating team believed that many producers had been deterred from giving freelancers their full rights by the obligation to honour minimum rates. In the new agreement, minimum rates for each category are recommended rather than guaranteed.

BECTU's Assistant General Secretary Martin Spence said: "BECTU's aim has been to renew the agreement, get it used and make it work for the union's members. This vote shows that members overwhelmingly support this approach. The hope now is that PACT will respond in the same spirit."

The new agreement comes into force in November 2003.

25 September 2003