We want to see an end to excessive VFX overtime. We want to see VFX companies treat their workers fairly.
To do that, our goal is to form a union of VFX workers, and gain union recognition for any team/department at any major VFX facility in the UK that wants to see its working conditions improved. Once we have recognition, the VFX companies can no longer ignore us, and it becomes a lot easier to get the changes we need on issues like overtime.
What is “recognition”?
Currently, VFX companies can simply ignore us if we ask them for things they don’t want to give us (like paid overtime). However, if enough of us join a union, then the situation changes very quickly. UK law says that if enough workers within a company (or within a department/team at that company) join a union like BECTU, then that company becomes required by law to negotiate with that union for the collective rights of that group of workers. This is called “recognition”.
When a union is recognised, it means that a company can no longer ignore issues being raised by its workers. BECTU has a professional team of negotiators that would be able to fight on our behalf for the changes we need. Recognition also means that a number of other legal options open up to us. Recognition is the key to getting the changes we need.
Almost every other branch of the film industry has a union, and gets treated much more fairly as a result. We think it’s VFX’s turn.
How many members do we need?
The details of going for recognition are a bit complicated, but in summary we have to prove that:
- at least 10% of a certain team/department in the company is composed of union members
- a majority of employees are in favour of recognition (eg via a petition)
In practice, a union will make sure they have more than the absolute minimum (eg 30% or 50%) so that they can be absolutely sure the bid for recognition will succeed, and won’t be derailed by people suddenly leaving or joining the company halfway through the recognition bid.
If you’d like to find out more about how recognition works, then come along to one of our lunchtime gatherings and we’ll be happy to explain the details! Alternatively, you can find the UK government’s own information about union recognition here:
How will we know when we’re getting close?
We use a process called “mapping” to keep track of which companies and departments our members are currently in. We can’t go into details of how we do this publicly (we don’t want the VFX companies to be able to stop it!), but we already have good mapping data on most of the major London VFX companies, and we will know when we’re in a strong position for a recognition bid in a particular team or department. We’re already a good portion of the way there!
BECTU members will be kept up-to-date about this via email and other methods of communication.
Can we really do this?
Yes! Whilst we do need more members, we feel it’s a very realistic and achievable number. We’ve spoken to a great many VFX workers about this, and there is clearly a huge appetite for this. Aside from senior management, we’ve met almost no one in the VFX industry that disagrees with us about excessive overtime being a serious problem, and that a union should be part of the solution.
There’s a huge amount of work coming through Soho in the near future – we will get no better opportunity than the one we have right now. If we can all get the message out there and convince enough people to make the leap and sign up, then yes – we really believe we can do this.