Industrial unrest is threatening to bring the commercials production
business to a halt in a dispute over weekend and bank holiday pay.
The Advertising Film and Video Producers Association wants to abolish
premium rates of pay for weekends and bank holidays. However, talks
broke down when the reforms were unanimously rejected by the
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union.
Bectu, which represents commercials workers, from directors to runners,
and the AFVPA, which represents production companies, have been
negotiating a new settlement to replace their current agreement on pay
and conditions of work, which runs out at the end of June.
The existing arrangement, which does not cover producers and directors,
gives double pay for weekends, and more for bank holidays.
During negotiations, a number of other substantial modifications were
made to the agreement, but when it came to the issue of overtime, there
was a dramatic clash of opinions which led to the breakdown of talks.
Cecilia Garnett, the chief executive of the AFVPA, commented: ‘The
unions do not understand the nature of the business. This is not about
protecting profit margins, it is about being flexible and modern, and
staying competitive with the rest of Europe.’
Garnett stressed that the problem is a practical one. She said that many
artists are only available at weekends, and often it is only possible to
use preferred locations when the public are not using them.
Phil Hooley, the national organiser for the London production division
of Bectu, said: ‘We are worried that lower rates will lead to more
weekend work, but the AFVPA thinks that freelancers don’t need
The dispute could end in industrial action if the two parties do not
agree on how to move negotiations forward. Garnett proposes that if no
progress is made, the current agreement could be renewed, while Hooley
sees the dispute going to arbitration.