Fighting long hours culture on both sides of the Atlantic

15 September 2021

Film and TV workers on both sides of the Atlantic are calling time on long hours culture.

This week, Bectu has expressed solidarity with crew in the USA who are fighting for better working conditions in the film industry. Crew on both sides of the Atlantic work extremely long hours, and the problem is only getting worse. We stand shoulder to shoulder with IATSE in the fight against long hours.

Bectu has continually campaigned for a fair working culture for all our members. IATSE’s efforts to secure reasonable working hours, living wages, meal breaks and sustainable benefits are issues that affect employees and freelancers in the industry all over the world, and we stand in solidarity with the fight for what should be basic employee rights.

Long hours in the UK

We recently spoke to the Daily Telegraph about long hours and burnout in the industry, and in an article published today they cited the Bectu’s March 2021 One Year On survey which found that 40% of respondents working in film and TV have considered leaving the creative industries at some point since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Telegraph also reported on our open letter to Pact Producers, signed by over 2100 members, asking for a renegotiation of the Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement which sets out mutually agreed terms and conditions to protect workers rights, with a particular focus on addressing the issue of the industry’s long hours culture.

The open letter calls on Pact to:

  • Set a timetable to complete a review of the agreement as soon as possible
  • Enter into meaningful negotiations and match our commitment to review and update the agreement
  • Work with us to produce an improved agreement which is valued and respected across the industry
  • Prioritise mental health, wellbeing and work life balance

Talks between Bectu and Pact on the agreement will begin at the end of September.

Speaking about long hours culture in the film and TV industry, Bectu National Secretary Spencer MacDonald said:

“The lockdown was a terrifying time for the majority freelance workforce, with thousands not eligible for the support scheme, but it also gave them time to reflect on their working conditions and the long hours spent away from family and friends.

“To safeguard the future of the industry, we must get round the table, address the worsening long hours culture and secure a new deal for freelancers.”