U.K. High End TV Negotiations Between Producer and Crew Unions Heats Up

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The negotiations between U.K. producers body Pact and crew union BECTU have taken a surprising turn after Pact publicly released details of the offer it planned to make.

In a statement titled “Pact offers significantly enhanced terms to scripted TV crew,” the organization said it was “striving to retain the collective agreement and preserve the relationship and collaboration with Bectu that was established with the creation of the Pact/Bectu UK TV drama agreement in 2017.”

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Among the terms it offered on productions costing up to £7 million ($8.3 million) an hour are shorter working days, additional pay for prep and wrap, payment for working unsocial hours, a higher overtime fee cap and paying days worked over public holidays at double time. This would apply on all scripted productions including comedy and children’s shows.

The proposal also includes the creation of a new budget band for productions costing over £7 million an hour “with further enhanced terms to be negotiated with Bectu as a priority.”

Pact’s statement also urged Bectu to “put forward this new proposal to its members for ballot.”

In response, head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “While we’re pleased that Pact has presented an improved offer, we’re surprised that the detail has been put into the public domain before we have had the chance to consider it and consult with our representatives.”

“As a member-led organisation our members’ priorities always come first and we always seek to present proposals to our members at the earliest opportunity,” she continued. “While we recognise the need to move quickly given the impending termination of the agreement, Pact is well aware of the negotiations process and that we would need time to review and analyse the proposals ahead of communicating the offer to those impacted.”

“This is a hugely important agreement that will make significant changes to the working lives of scripted TV crew and it’s critical Bectu properly considers the proposals before we make a recommendation to our members. We appreciate Pact’s efforts to retain the collective agreement and the collaboration we have established, and we are committed to trying to reach a satisfactory outcome, but can’t comment in any detail before we have consulted with our branches.”

The negotiations come against a backdrop of increasing tensions over the screen industry’s long-hours culture, which has a knock on effect on mental health and well-being.

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