Campaigning for our future in 2021

Philippa Childs · 14 January 2021

In her first blog of 2021, Philippa Childs looks to the year ahead for Bectu.

Picture of Head of bectu Philippa Childs

It is impossible to overstate how challenging 2020 was for Bectu members.

For some, work stopped entirely or was only coming in fits and bursts, others were suddenly having to juggle working from home with teaching Y5 maths. Whatever your situation, it was certainly a year that none of us will ever forget.

I want to start by saying a huge thank you to members, reps, and indeed Bectu staff, who went above and beyond to ensure that our members voices were heard at work, in the media, and in the corridors of power. There is still more to do, especially for those members who are excluded from accessing government support schemes, but rest assured that campaigning will continue.

While 2021 has got off to a similarly tough start, with the vaccine rollout now underway there is hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel. At Bectu, we will continue campaigning for as much support as possible for the creative industries, as well as continuing our crucial work on bread-and-butter union issues.

Our theatres, venues and cinemas will reopen at some point later this year. Bectu’s priority will be ensuring that this is a safe reopening and that a loss of revenue is not paid for by downgrading hard won terms and conditions.

We will also be keeping a watchful eye on terms and conditions for our majority freelance membership in the film and TV industry. Bectu’s unscripted members recently shared their experiences of bullying and harassment, and we know there are similar stories across the sector. Freelancers deserve a new deal and it is time that broadcasters, production companies and indies stepped up to the plate.

Last year we published Race to be Heard, which recommends the establishment of an external body to monitor racism in broadcasting. We will be continuing our campaigning to diversify the creative industries throughout the year and I would encourage members to join one of our networks to help shape these campaigns.

Covid-19 is not the only lobbying priority for Bectu this year. The government recently established a panel that is questioning the very need for public service broadcasting and we will be making a loud and clear case for this much-needed public funding. The BBC is currently showing why it is the envy of the world by providing excellent educational content for the nation’s children during lockdown, and ITV provided unrivalled coverage of the US riots last week, with its report from inside the Capitol building. The last thing this country needs is a culture war that results in a race to the bottom on standards in broadcasting.

I want to end by saying a huge and heartfelt thank you. I am sure that by continuing to work together, we will end 2021 on a brighter note as the industries where our members work play a huge part in rebuilding the economy. Creativity is what keeps our minds stimulated and our hearts enriched, and that has never been more important than it is now.

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