September 23, 2023

Broadcasting union Bectu has waded into the U.S. labor dispute with an open letter to the AMPTP, urging it to financially support UK crew who are “suffering hardship” and to “resume negotiations” with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.

“It is time to address the huge inequalities within our industry and it is time for you to support crew through this shutdown,” said the letter penned by Bectu Head Philippa Childs.

The move comes after a Bectu survey found 80% of the UK’s freelance workforce had been impacted by the WGA/SAG strikes, while a petition is currently circling calling on the UK government to financially help those who have lost work.

Childs wrote to AMPTP boss Carol Lombardini today, taking the AMPTP to task for leaving freelancers “paying the price of your failure to reach an acceptable agreement with our colleagues in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.”

“It is they who face no work and no income while the dispute drags on and they who bear the brunt of these protracted negotiations,” she added. “It is surely undisputable that you have a responsibility to the workforce that is so integral to creating the content that you profit from.”

She called on the AMPTP to “put in place financial support for UK crew, represented by Bectu, who are suffering incredible hardship as a result of this crisis.”

Numerous British TV and film productions have had to shut down since the strike started including the likes of Disney+’s Andor and Rami Malek-starrer Amateur, while crew who were working on U.S. shows abroad have also lost work.

The situation was a hot topic at the UK producer trade body Pact briefing earlier this week, with Pact boss John McVay forecasting a “tough” 2023 for the UK industry in part due to the strikes.

Bectu has been speaking regularly to U.S. unions and British actors union Equity has been in constant dialogue with SAG-AFTRA, with Equity currently locked in its own negotiations with UK broadcasters and Pact.

Childs wrote to Lombardini: “You produce content in the UK because of the high-quality, sought after skills of the crew here, as well as the tax incentives and the excellent facilities offered by the studios. There is a very real danger that talented crew with transferable skills will take their expertise elsewhere. This should sound alarm bells to anyone who wants to see the UK and global industry thrive into the future.”

She called for the AMPTP’s eventual agreement with the U.S. unions to “recognise that the workforce deserves fair remuneration for their contribution to making the industry such a success worldwide.”

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