Unionisation at MPC!

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BREAKING NEWS! The VFX branch of BECTU has given formal notice to MPC’s management that the Compositing Department at MPC are unionising, and will be applying for union recognition.

Yesterday (2nd Dec. 2015), MPC responded to this, and called the entire comp department (over 130 people) into a short meeting. They announced that the company had received a petition from BECTU for recognition of the union for the comp department. They announced that they will begin negotiations with BECTU, and that they intend to fight this bid for union recognition. They took no questions, and made no attempt to justify the excessive unpaid overtime in the VFX industry, or other issues that have made this recognition bid necessary.

What does this mean? It means IT’S ON! Yes – this is really happening!

Whilst MPC’s announcement that they intend to dispute the bid is somewhat disappointing, it’s no surprise either, and we were prepared for this. It came across as more of a delaying tactic than as a legitimate issue. We’ve got a fight ahead of us – but it’s a fight the union has fought before, and can win again. In gathering so many VFX workers and making this something that the VFX companies can no longer ignore, we’ve already achieved a major victory!

We need you! To all VFX workers here in London that have been quietly hoping for something to happen, well… THIS IS IT! Now is the time to get on board! This is our best and only chance at finally getting the change our industry so badly needs.

We’ve been overwhelmed with hundreds of responses to our VFX petition, from every corner of the UK VFX industry. Now is the time to act.

We would like to invite all VFX workers in all departments at MPC and other VFX companies in London to get on board. If you want to see change in our industry and you’re interested in getting something going at your company or your department, then get in touch – we’d love to help.

This is our moment! This is what we’ve all been working for! Join now and help finally change the industry for the better.

join_bectu

Come to the Thursday VFX Lunchtime Meetup today, 1:00-2:00 in the food court at The Plaza, Oxford Street to find out more! We’ve got lots to talk about! Look for the green flag!

green-flag

Watch this space and @VFXUnionUK on Twitter for all the latest updates on this exciting and rapidly developing situation!

Posted in BECTU, Media, News
  • Economist2011

    vfx workers are the new sweatshop workforce of the 21st century. Unionize!

    • RainCityHC

      You have got to be fucking kidding me. Have you ever seen a real sweatshop there numbnuts? I’ll tell you this much, they don’t give you free beer every week, or all the free food you can stuff into your fat mouth, or lavish workspaces in the coolest parts of town. I feel so sorry for you, however do you make it through the day! Does your back hurt from sitting in your $300 chair? Are you unhappy with the assortment of free lunches you get? Disgraceful comment.

    • TheBallBreaker

      You have got to be fucking kidding me. Have you ever seen a real
      sweatshop there numbnuts? I’ll tell you this much, they don’t give you
      free beer every week, or all the free food you can stuff into your fat
      mouth, or lavish workspaces in the coolest parts of town. I feel so
      sorry for you, however do you make it through the day! Does your back
      hurt from sitting in your $300 chair? Are you unhappy with the
      assortment of free lunches you get? Disgraceful comment. I was somewhat for the unionization until this comment.

      • Kimon Matara

        No offence, but if all it took was an online comment to swing you, I doubt you had much of a personal stake or experience in the issue to begin with.

      • Juan Gil

        You know nothing…

        • Peter S

          …. John Snow!

      • MatteObject

        Tell you what, pay us overtime and I’ll buy my own goddamned beer, how’s that?

      • malcmilli

        clearly he was speaking in hyperbole. I wouldnt rustle ya jimmies over it.

      • ThatGuy

        How about tomorrow when your wife, kid or family member falls sick. Would you feed them assortment of free lunches instead of medicines, comfort them with a $300 chair or give them a free beer. Its our job and it should be our money to spend – the way we want. People deserve to be paid for every second of work.

        • Nathan Westveer

          This industry is not kind to significant life events that artist experice while working in it.

      • crovfx

        I would absolutely agree with the fact that the sweatshop comment is not appropriate but some other bits of your reply to that comment are absolute appalling and indicate that you have never gone through a proper crunch or have worked in the vfx for a significant amount of time or at different facilities internationally to be able to gauge things and draw some conclusions that are grounded in reality and experience based. To revert to the first sweatshop comment, definitely not comparable to London or even the appropriate analogy but in reality some of the vfx shops in India, China and S.Korea are run exactly like that. I have personally been to places that have had people sleeping under tables and hygiene was appalling. Cans of half eaten food and distinct whiff of urine and fecal matter. Floors had actual water puddles on them while extension bars were sparking and the toilets were at a state worst than an Albanian railway station loo. Employees waited in front of locked gates until they would be let in and at lunchtime they would have a “break space” and would not be able to go out of the facility main gates without special permission. Also cell phones were not allowed and were left at “reception” (more like a shack with a guard). Aforementioned is obviously the worst case scenario of how a third world vfx sweatshop can look like – while online leaving an impression of a high end outsourcer with high end facilities with a rented office for client meets in the posh downtown. London is obviously far detached from the described but here are the points of your post that are severely ignorant.
        1. Free beer every week !?
        – Are you kidding me, no place does that as it would be detrimental to work performance. This only happens at small shops and trust me that their employees might not be a part of this petition. All the big places have once a month pizza and beer – meaning 1-2 beers and 1-2 slices of pizza. The point is anyway to socialise with other employees and relax – not to get wasted or stuffed.

        2. All the free food you can stuff in your mouth…?
        Hmmm…again, please tell me which place you are refering to ? ALL of the places in London will allow for a evening food order once you have been approved. Also evening food order will only happen if you are staying past 20:30 or 21 PM. The mentioned is a standard.

        3. Lavish workspaces
        Please explain to me how does one benefit from it ? Its for the clients and that’s all there is too it. All you really care about is your 5×6 feet of space. Being in a lavish place of town is actually a huge issue as you obviously can’t afford to live there so you commute from a fair bit away and spend loads of money and time.

        4. $300 chair ?
        Actually Aerons are $750+ but hey buddy you know what it still doesn’t matter as not chair is made for 18 hours of sitting over months and months.

        In the end please do not post things like this again as they are plain ignorant and offensive to people who have lost their health and relationships over long unpaid hours.

        Also you need to understand this matter deeper and try and wrap your mind about the fact that this is not an attack on the vfx facilities. How can it be – at the end of the day they really are not making bazillion’s and struggle to survive in the race to the bottom. I am after 17 years happy and grateful to each and one of them as they enabled me to do what I decided to do on my own accord, have a great career and put food on the table for my family.

        This Unionization is at the end of the day about actually enabling the vfx facilities to be able to say to the studios:”Hey our guys will not work for this money that we can give them if we strike this deal with you for this X amount of money”. And this time they will have to say that as they won’t have a choice …therefore Studios can either decide to re-evaluate the vfx budgets or finally be honest about how they really operate and send their work to their actual partner sweatshop mentioned at the beginning of this now quite long post.

        Kind regards

        • http://animationguild.org/ Steve Kaplan

          “This Unionization is at the end of the day about actually enabling the vfx facilities to be able to say to the studios:”Hey our guys will not work for this money that we can give them if we strike this deal with you for this X amount of money”.”

          Well said! Scott Ross attempted to get the VFX Studios to work cohesively to attain this very goal. Most of them weren’t willing to participate in such an effort, thus the importance of the vfx worker acting cohesively became that much more important.

          Ultimately, I hope any agreement a union makes with a vfx studio provides for healthy and safe working conditions and some benefits that help strengthen the viability of a career in the industry.

          • crovfx

            Absolutely. Things just have to get sustainable enough so we can all enjoy what we do for longer and live healthy lives. At this possible turning point it’s also really important for people to not get militant and keep their cool. Nobody wants to deal with a disgruntled, jaded mob mentality. Professionalism is of paramount in order to allow things to develop properly.

      • Steve

        Where do you work?

      • D.

        You have no idea what you are talking about bud, if I were you I’d be quiet, companies cannot go unchecked and they have to pay for whatever time people work on their projects, period.

      • trusadi1 .

        But a post on an internet forum made you change your opinion?

      • Cam

        You’re a fool. Go take a nap in your mom’s basement.

      • tcomp

        Just by reading this comments I could safely say , you don’t really work as a compositor or a 3D artist .. Probably in production??.. hmm..
        The truth is , unionizing VFX industry is only going to give a back bone to VFX studio bosses!

      • Nathan Westveer

        Those are just expenses that go with the industry to keep artist distracted and working.
        Any film set has an entire deparment dedicated to feeding those on set. It’s called Craft Services. Yet, some how they have a union.

      • ned

        Clearly you’re a puppet for the 1%. And no, I don’t believe you were ever “somewhat for unionization.”

        And yes, I’ve seen a real sweatshop, I’ve worked in several throughout my career in VFX. But I’ll tell ya one thing, once I was hired at Walt Disney Feature Animation, an IATSE union shop, my life changed overnight for the better.

        I was paid for ALL of my time, was paid a livable wage, was for the first time in my 10 years of film experience able to save money due to union minimums. Also I had for the first time in my life had HEALTH INSURANCE, not to mention witnessing WDFA forced to comply with California labor laws when production once attempted to have us work an unpaid “working lunch.”

        Free sandwiches are all well and good, but my hourly rate’s higher than the cost of a sandwich or beer (not to mention the fact that I find coercion of the work force through cheap drugs like alcohol and caffeine a bit unethical).

        • 17YearVFXVet

          You can’t compare animation to VFX. Disney makes its own movies with its own money and profits from it. Under those circumstances, yes, a union can help. VFX is not in control of their own income, one company is undercutting and underbidding the next one. In order to get a job you have to be either the specialty company for that effect, or your bids have to be below any profit margin. I can go on and on why your comparison with Disney ins completely irrelevant. Oh, and yes, Disney outsources the straight to video work to India… wonder why that is.
          TheBallBreaker is mostly wrong in his comments people in VFX are not living in the lap of luxury, but a lot of places do provide some food and drink for their employees to make the long hours bearable. It’s nice of them not a coercion tactic.

      • grailpuffin

        Ya, Economist2011! Who needs a living wage and a 45 hour work week when you can have a salami and cheese sandwich? Just shut up and eat your lunch.

  • http://animationguild.org/ Steve Kaplan

    Good on the team at MPC for this! Here’s hoping this empowers VFX workers across the pond and globe.

  • Jadan

    This is a great start! I hope that one day we will all see a union on both sides of the pond! I just hope there are companies to unionize for. How much more of a hole can our industry bury itself in before we as workers take charge of our own destiny.

    • MatteObject

      This is the movie industry, no matter how debased you think it’s gotten, it can always go further!

    • pie in the sky

      This will destroy the UK vfx industry. Studios will move elsewhere. Look what happened to LA.

      • TarqFon

        That was the subsidies, not unionization or OT pay. OT is paid in Vancouver, Montreal and New Zealand (and LA, of course). The entire rest of the film industry is unionized, even in the UK. It’s time for vfx.

      • 17YearVFXVet

        You are 100% correct. Its irrelevant that it was subsidies. The bottom line is more money for the people paying for VFX, and they will look where it is the cheapest, period. Everyone out there is out to make as much money as they can. Studio execs taking advantage of VFX shops, VFX shop owners taking advantage of their employees etc.. Subsidies going away will not solve, this, unions will not solve this. VFX has a new price point and it’s not going to change unless it moves down. Unions killed the whole movie industry in LA. Subsidies are here to stay, they will just move from one place to the next. If you don’t want to move around all the time, and work long hours, get out of the industry.

        This is not good news. UK is the new LA now, congrats.

  • aaaandI’mBored

    Morning benders, jump in the minge mobile.

  • raymond

    Well done Comp team at MPC, well done Bectu!

    How about Lighting dept too?…more join , the stronger you are.

    The timing is perfect…all shows are in need of lighters and compers right now for the summer tent-pole movies.

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  • Steve Losak

    Here i am doing back breaking manual labor making 400 dollars a week in a shitty environment always cold in winter always hot in summer dust humid nasty chemicals but one day hope to work in VFX and i will self learning and you guys area comparing you work to sweatshop. My job is so back breaking and hard that i cant gain weight and i eat like a horse and i can gain wight really easy. All i am saying is it can be worse guys i would kill do work in vfx industry. i will take 400 a week to work in a nice environment i will clean floors toilets what ever it takes to get my foot in vfx

    • tcomp

      You could always compare your life or job with someone else’s and think it is better or worse than yours .. But that doesn’t mean these guys shouldn’t be fighting for a better work place than what it is now!

      • Steve Losak

        i agree fight for better work place, i wish we could but cant since we are temps you say one wrong thing and they dont call you tomorow.

    • pixelRebel

      I consider my self very lucky for having a job that started as a hobby, now working on cool projects, getting well compensated and all the perks. I know the grand majority of the people in this world doesn’t have any of these luxuries, so I am very grateful.
      But this doesn’t mean I have to bend over and take it with no complain every time the client wants something unreasonable and make me give away my personal life to work long hours. It’s obvious that they keep asking more for less, so the industry as a whole should stand a bit against the production studios. They need us, as much as we need them.

      Plus I want my name on the credits to be before the catering, cleaners and the other fluffers.
      =]

      • Seniorcomp

        Are you serious ??? your name before catering and “fluffers” you think you are a better individual than them ? we are the newest addition to the film industry, it is fair enough we are the last on credits. Who cares ? it is not a contest of who has the more hair on the chest or the biggest d… ! it is because of that kind of thinking that I am worry we will harm our jobs instead of helping. There is this collective taboo of staying late because others are still there. When was the last time you walked out at 18.30 and someone stopped you ? We have to make that effort of saying no more often by ourselves instead of go beg other to to it for us. We could do a lot less hours (still some, true) by simply say “No I can’t” I have done it more often this last year and never had any problem from it…

    • ned

      If you want to work in VFX rather than your “back breaking manual labor” you always take out a student loan as I and many other people in our industry have, work your ass off, witness your social life dissolve for lack of free time, experience neck/back/wrist pain, get RSI, and have carpal tunnel surgery one wrist at a time. We earn every unpaid penny bub.

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  • 7ony7ouch

    Cool. Now vfx jobs will come back to US. Thanks UK!

  • daniel Cantwell

    Great news and long overdue. We all work in this industry as we have a passion for it and that passion is ruthlessly taken advantage of at times. I would imagine that the ball breaker is in production given his title and the fact that he is adopting the misguided view like a lot of production managers that ” your being paid so shut your yap”. The reality is YOUR NOT PAYING FOR IT. It’s also a shame that MPC is fighting it. I fully expected them to fight it but really it probably wouldn’t even be necessary to pay overtime if they just shook up and properly run other departments. The reason the VFX industry gets boned is that we’re the last in the chain and all other departments short comings and missed deadlines gets lumped on to compositors for the most part. If vfx supervisors and production managers cracked down in other areas and pushed back when rediculous notes come through from indecisive directors the working conditions would not be as bad. This unionization needs to happen at the very least to focus managements attention elsewhere to where they can save money and stream line.

    • 17YearVFXVet

      Spoken out of absolute ignorance. VFX Studios are running on almost zero profit as it is. It is an extremely volatile industry, why do you think so many places have shut down? because they could not say no to a Director??? Um no, that is not the truth at all, and if you believe that then you are too far down the chain to know better. There are plenty of other reasons that hurt the companies. Some in their control, most not. Studio execs don’t give a crap about the companies, that is the major pain point, by unionizing you are ONLY hurting your company and it’s ability to even employ you.
      MPC is fighting it because they know that if this goes through then goodbye ALL jobs in the UK. Don’t you get it? If the uk artists are costing them significantly more than the Vancouver or Montreal offices, then why keep UK open? For the good of the people? Hell no! You keep that open you kill the ENTIRE company. What are you people thinking? Who is going to incur those extra costs exactly? Artists are not cheap. Facilities are not cheap, infrastructure is not cheap. VFX is not CHEAP. But studios will only pay so much…. Rock meet hard place.
      The sheer level of economic ignorance on this page is unreal.

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