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A global survey of working conditions has found long working hours are now the norm across the film and television industries worldwide, with 50- to 60-hour workweeks common among production crewmembers in the 20 countries surveyed.
The initial results of the survey by the UNI Global Union, an international association of unions and guilds in the media and entertainment sector, were published Wednesday in support of UNI’s U.S. affiliate, the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The 53,000 IATSE members voted almost unanimously over the weekend in favor of a nationwide strike against film and TV productions if the guild cannot reach a new deal on working conditions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
IATSE and the AMPTP resumed bargaining talks Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to avert a walkout.
The UNI survey, which is drawn from a study of unions representing more than 150,000 behind-the-scenes workers from 20 countries, suggests that issues raised by IATSE in its negotiations are global, not national, problems.
“Recurrent overtime and insufficient rest during and between workdays is not the exception but the rule, and production crews have said enough is enough,” said UNI Global Union general secretary Christy Hoffman in a statement. “The huge support expressed by [IATSE] workers in favor of a strike authorization make it very clear to multinational employers that it’s time for change.”
The U.S. industry has an oversize impact on working standards in the film and TV industries because of the size and influence of Hollywood studios and U.S.-based streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. International guilds are looking to IATSE to set higher standards for the treatment of film and television crews.
“The members have spoken loud and clear,” said IATSE international president Matthew Loeb, referring to the vote authorizing strike action. “This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry. Our people have basic human needs like time for meal breaks, adequate sleep and a weekend. For those at the bottom of the pay scale, they deserve nothing less than a living wage.”
UNI’s Media and Entertainment sector (UNI MEI) said it will soon be publishing full details from its survey, which gathered data on collective agreements, working hours, and terms and conditions, in preparation for a global campaign to improve working hours across the sector.
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