BBC, Union in Dispute Over Pay for Writers on Training Schemes

BBC London headquarters HQ - H 2015
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The guild says the public broadcaster pays less than Britain’s minimum wage.

The BBC and the British writers union are at odds over pay for scripts produced by people in training schemes.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain said in a letter to BBC director general Tony Hall that the public broadcaster was paying writers working on potential scripts for such soap operas as EastEnders as little as the equivalent of $3.08 (£2) an hour. Bernie Corbett, the general secretary of the guild, called on Hall to pay scriptwriters at least the minimum wage, The Guardian reported.

Writers working on the schemes are paid a fee of $1,540 (£1,000) and are required to hand in up to three drafts of a trial script over a three-month period, the union says. There is no guarantee of an actual order at the end of the scheme. The union says the pay amounts to about $3.67 (£2.38) an hour, compared to the U.K. minimum wage of $10.31 (£6.70).

A BBC spokesman disputed the figures cited by the union.

"We’re proud of our work training and supporting writers through these schemes, which have been successful in helping writers to secure commissions on our shows," he told The Guardian. ‎"We don’t accept the figures cited in the letter, but we had already scheduled to meet the the Writers’ Guild at the end of this month for a further discussion about how these schemes operate and we will discuss the issues they raise then."

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