Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, asks ‘Why Dignity at Work?’

31 Oct 2019

This campaign is for all members of Bectu. All of you. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or where you come from – we all deserve dignity in the workplace and this campaign is about standing up for that very basic workplace right.

Bectu wants to make one very clear bold statement about Dignity at Work, and just what that means. It’s something that we can all sign up to, and all unite behind. It’s a positive message, which we have arrived at having been through some seriously negative times. From the Saville enquiry to the Me Too movement. From the constant battles of our freelance members simply looking to get paid on time, to the runners being told they’re lucky to be there and should not complain. From the issues around diversity in our industry and the impossibility of jugging work and a family. So many issues, but one key message – Dignity.

That’s the line in the sand that our union is now drawing. We all deserve Dignity at Work, and we must respect the dignity of one another.

This campaign has various strands, because if you’re not being treated with Dignity at Work, that might manifest itself in various ways. So we’ve pulled together this tool kit so our members can learn more, identify what levers they want to pull to establish their right to Dignity in their workplace and get the support they need.

Most of the time, when your Dignity at Work is breached, it’s about one person asserting power over the other, and it’s abuse of that power. This might take many different forms.

It could be:

  • Bullying within the workplace
  • Not being paid in line with what was agreed
  • Threats of not getting further work
  • Being provided with PPE that doesn’t fit or protect you properly
  • Being paid unfairly or unequally
  • Not being engaged or promoted, due to race, gender, disability, age, visible, sexuality etc
  • Not having a voice in the workplace or not being heard
  • Working long hours, possibly unpaid additional hours
  • No welfare facilities provided at a live event
  • Wrong assumptions made about working parents
  • Being treated less favourably because of a disability or visible difference

This list is endless. They are examples of the kinds of issues and cases our union responds to every day – and they all come down the same thing: Dignity at Work.

While the law underpins some of these situations, this campaign is about raising awareness of the very basic principle of Dignity. We’re asking employers and engagers to do something about that, and we’re asking our members to assert it.

The campaign has 5 key strands:

  • Equality Diversity and Inclusion
  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Quality of working life
  • Talking Terms
  • Sticking Together

Equality, Diversity and inclusion

We want the creative industries to be inclusive and welcoming to all. We want to ensure that pay and reward structures and all policies are all fairly and consistently applied. We’re committed to narrowing the gender pay gap and breaking down the barriers to under representation across the industry. We want to ensure that Industry Leaders come from diverse backgrounds.

Bullying and harassment

We expect the creative industries to be exemplary in their response to bullying and harassment. The #Metoo movement shone a light on behaviours that have no place in the industry. Working with our partners in the BFI and BAFTA we’ve put in place a framework to address the immediate problems but there’s still work to do, to support our members in the workplace and to provide Bectu representatives with the tools to respond effectively.

Quality of working life

We believe that the creative industries should value and champion “good work”. Tackling stress in the workplace and having honest conversations about mental health. Thinking creatively about flexible working to support family life; Recognising that people need support in the workplace for different stages of life. If the industry can get this stuff right, it will benefit everyone so Bectu wants to talk to employers and engagers about what “good” looks like and how we achieve it.

Talking terms

We demand that those working in the creative industries, whether they are freelancers or employees are paid fairly and on time. Bectu members have professional skills and experience, it’s a great industry but that should not be exploited. Whether it’s through collective agreements or setting the rate for the job Bectu will ensure that members are paid properly for the work they do.

Sticking together

We want members to stick together and to stick up for each other.  Bectu will ensure that individual members are able to assert their rights and find the confidence to stand up for one another. Changing culture, whether that’s a long hours culture or an unsafe environment in the workplace depends on members deciding together that they want change to happen. Dignity at work is something everyone can insist on – together.

Equality, Diversity and inclusion

We want the creative industries to be inclusive and welcoming to all. We want to ensure that pay and reward structures and all policies are all fairly and consistently applied. We’re committed to narrowing the gender pay gap and breaking down the barriers to under representation across the industry. We want to ensure that Industry Leaders come from diverse backgrounds

We’ll be formally launching our campaign in London on 12 November and Manchester on 21 November but this is a campaign that will grow so we’ll be having more events and sharing lots of resources over the coming months.

We think you deserve Dignity at work – if you agree, join Bectu and support our campaign.