The Major Motion Picture Agreement
(PACT and BECTU)
In April 2018, after years of negotiations, a set of terms for crew contracts were agreed on between the Producer's Union (PACT) and BECTU. From that point on, contracts for all Art Department crew on productions over £30m have included those terms. There are plans to include major productions for streaming services within the agreement as well.
What does the Agreement mean for Art Department crew?
As a result of the agreement, many conditions were improved for shooting and off set crew. However, for the Art Department, a significant impact of the agreement was that working hours are now clearly stated. Previously, contracts had often only specified hours for the shooting crew during principal photography. As a result, the Art Department, along with all off set crew, is now contracted to work 11+1 hours each day (11 hours work, 1 hour unpaid for lunch).
But I’ve never worked those hours on big budget films!
In the negotiations, the producers acknowledged this and conceded that although the contracts would specify 11+1 hours, the Art Department could continue to work their traditional hours, under what was described as the 'Gentleman’s Agreement'. This of course, is problematic as it differs to the terms in the employment contract.
What is BECTU doing about this?
The BECTU Art Department Committee has been campaigning to change the contracted hours. PACT has agreed to discuss this in the next round of negotiations. A number of other departments who work in a similar way to the Art Department have joined up with us in order to pool our resources and put a stronger case for changing the contracted hours. Together, we are called the 'Workshop Hours' branches.
We ran a survey in October 2019, across all these branches, where we collected data on hours worked traditionally and currently. We also gathered evidence on the health and safety aspects of working long hours. We presented all of this to PACT in a meeting in November 2019. You can read the presentation document here. We also collected testimonials of crew members working long hours, which can be found here.
What about smaller budget films?
That is next! BECTU's plan was to set up an agreement for the bigger budgets, as this was felt to be the easiest area to start with, and then move on to smaller independants. If you want to help with this, do get in touch. We are limited only by the number of people that we have to do these things.
How do I find out more and get involved?
We will be doing updates via the BECTU Art Department Newsletter on the next stages of these negotiations.
In the meantime, if you would like to get involved, please get in touch. We need to look at more than just changing the contracted hours, but also the culture of staying late that exists on some productions, how we can structure the department more efficiently and look at management structures to ensure that people are working as productively as possible.
If you interested in this please email the branch secretary.
I don't have time to get involved...
You've already helped by joining BECTU! Historically the Art Department has been very underpresented and as a result we are at the bottom of the list when Producers listen to what the various branches have to say. If we can encourage more Art Department members to join, and increase the percentage of Art Department members who are in BECTU, PACT will listen to what we have to say with far more interest.
Even if you don't have time to help specifically with a campaign, please do encourage other Art Department members to join as every number counts.