MPC argument against unionisation no. 3

rewards-to-increase-employee-productivity

MPC says: ‘If a union is recognised, then it’s no longer possible for us to reward good workers with pay increases’

Again, not true. Just because a union has been recognised, it doesn’t mean that pay agreements with the workers suddenly magically change. The relationship between the workers, a recognised union and a company normally works like this:

  1. The members at a company are unhappy. They speak to their elected union rep, and it becomes clear that a majority of them want to see some kind of change in their working conditions (like paid overtime for example).
  2. The union rep brings this issue to the union’s attention, and asks the union to begin negotiations with the company about it.
  3. The union negotiates with management at the company on behalf of its members, and tries to come up with a proposed agreement that gives the workers what they are asking for. If this isn’t possible, then the union will try to find an alternate proposed agreement that at least goes part-way.
  4. If a proposed agreement was found, then the union presents this proposed agreement to their members, and the members vote on it. If enough members are in favour of it, then the agreement comes into force. If the members reject it or if no proposed agreement was reached, then the members decide what to do next – whether to ask BECTU to go for a different deal, or whether to give up on their demands, or whether to consider industrial action of some sort to put pressure the company (such as refusing to work excessive overtime).

So just because a department chose to unionise through BECTU, it doesn’t mean that pay banding would automatically have to come into effect. It would only come in if the members wanted it, an agreement was reached, and a majority of those members voted for it. If a department feels that they are already fairly rewarded for good work and that the system isn’t being abused, then they’d have no reason to ask for and vote in favour of a different pay structure that gets rid of it.

Even if workers did choose to vote for pay banding or rate-cards at some point in the future, pay banding is more commonly implemented as a minimum anyway, i.e. “as a lead compositor, you should be paid at least £XXX per hour”. There’s no reason that a rate-card or pay-banding system should stop a company from paying talented individuals more than the minimum rate. If you don’t believe us, then have a look at a genuine BECTU rate card (PDF) for the camera branch, and see for yourself.

Finally, remember that any future decision we make over pay-banding/rate cards is completely separate from the question of whether we should unionise or not. The question is not “What will the results be for me financially?”, but rather “Are we being treated fairly by our employers right now, and if not, would we like a union to work on our behalf to try to improve the situation?”

– See more at: http://vfxforum.org/faq/#what_arguments_has_mpc_given_against_unionisation_so_far

 TheUnionAwakensCrop
BIG LONDON VFX MEETING 
WED 13 JAN
It’s selling out! Register to ensure your place (free) bit.ly/unionise 

Posted in BECTU, Media, News

MPC argument against unionisation no. 2

Squeezed-coin-between-fin-007MPC says: ‘If one department unionises, then we’ll have to cut everyone else’s pay by 20% to pay for it’

It’s hard to take this excuse as anything other than blackmail, and an attempt to turn VFX workers against each other.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere, when a union is recognised it doesn’t somehow mean that every worker instantly gets suddenly becomes more expensive, or that everyone instantly gets paid overtime. When a union is first recognised, nothing changes at all beyond the fact that the company is now required to talk to the union, and must give access to the information they need to be able to do their job (profit margins, pay scales, employee lists, etc). If MPC chose to cut everyone else’s pay as a bizarre form of “collective punishment”, then there would be absolutely no reason for them to do this other than greed – they would be using the union as a convenient excuse to increase profits by reducing wages. If this came to pass and these other departments felt unhappy at being punished like this, then BECTU would welcome them with open arms, and would be happy to start fighting for their rights too.

Remember, unionisation is a basic legal right that almost everyone in the UK has – why should MPC punish its workers simply for exercising their rights? What if instead of putting all this time and effort into fighting unionisation, MPC put the same time and effort into collaborating with the union to end worker exploitation and excessive overtime instead?

– See more at: http://vfxforum.org/faq/#what_arguments_has_mpc_given_against_unionisation_so_far

 TheUnionAwakensCrop
BIG LONDON VFX MEETING
WED 13 JAN
It’s selling out! Register to ensure your place (free) bit.ly/unionise

Posted in BECTU, Media, News

MPC argument against unionisation no. 1

bottomless-pit

MPC says: ‘The pot is not bottomless – if VFX workers want paid overtime/sick pay/job security/etc, then something’s got to give’

Naturally – this is not an unreasonable position for a company to take. BECTU is being guided by its members, and we recognise that the VFX industry is a financially challenging environment, and that the UK VFX companies don’t have endless resources. If we unionise, then of course it doesn’t mean that every single VFX worker’s wishes will somehow instantly be granted. Equally though, just because the VFX companies have limited money, it doesn’t mean that it’s somehow completely impossible for them to improve how they treat their workers. Nor does it mean that a recognised union would somehow instantly put the VFX companies out of business.

Let’s be completely clear: we’re not unionising because we’re trying to squeeze more money out of the VFX companies. We’re not unionising because we want to pick a fight. We’re not unionising because of some unrealistic ideology either. We’re unionising because of very serious and very practical concerns about how people are being treated. We feel that the way that the VFX industry is treating its people is not right, is not sustainable, and needs to change if the UK VFX industry is to keep the talent it needs to survive. Having coordinators block exits to prevent workers from leaving on time is not a reasonable way for MPC to treat its workers – ever.

If the union’s members started pushing for something unreasonable (like making all their salaries 100x larger), then the union can look at the company’s books and will tell its members that this is completely unrealistic, before suggesting a more reasonable goal. If a VFX company ends up shrinking or going out of business because of a union, then that hurts the union too, because it loses members and membership fees. No one wants to see unionisation hurt the VFX industry, especially not BECTU.

A union also doesn’t arbitrarily decide on its own how much workers get paid – the union negotiates with the company and they come to a common agreement. If a VFX company could convincingly show that it couldn’t afford to pay for things like overtime, then BECTU would listen and would respect that. However, in the last 3 years of negotiations with BECTU, none of the VFX companies have yet made such a case. We think that a well-rested and fairly treated workforce would be significantly more efficient than a workforce that’s tired, overworked and demoralised – and this is something that should be taken into account before blindly suggesting that ideas such as paid-overtime simply aren’t affordable.

Even if a VFX company couldn’t afford to pay for everything its members were asking for, there are still other ways of tackling the issues that we’ve been raising. It might involve making changes to bidding and how time is estimated, for example. It might involve developing a stricter company policy on worker exploitation, and punishing productions or supervisors that breach these rules. It might involve changing development priorities, so that the company focuses on improvements to remove inefficient workflows. It might involve negotiating different terms with the Hollywood studios, so that the financial health of the VFX industry can improve. A union can help with all of these these things, as it has helped in other parts of the film industry.

Finally, we would caution any company that makes this excuse. VFX workers are a smart bunch, and are quite capable of doing research using publicly available resources to see through bad excuses. Anyone can search the UK Companies House website to see that MPC made £11.6 million in profit in 2014, for example (PDF, page 8). Anyone can find articles proclaiming that 2015 was a record financial year for the film industry as a whole, with total box office profits in excess of $11 billion worldwide. If the UK VFX companies truly cannot afford to treat their people reasonably despite the fact that they’re part of the most profitable movies in the film industry, then maybe it’s time for them to ask themselves why and to take steps to improve the situation.

– See more at: http://vfxforum.org/faq/#what_arguments_has_mpc_given_against_unionisation_so_far

 TheUnionAwakensCrop
BIG LONDON VFX MEETING 
WED 13 JAN
It’s selling out! Register to ensure your place (free) bit.ly/unionise

Posted in BECTU, Media, News

First VFX Lunch Meet of 2016!

Hope you’ve all had some wonderful holiday fun and relaxation. We here at the VFX Forum can proudly announce that the Thursday VFX Lunch Meet is back on after our little break for seasonal festivities. Please come and join us – so much to catch up on!

Thursday 7th January

1:00 – 2:00 pm

@ The Plaza, Oxford Street

There are some really exciting things happening soon! Come find out more about the VFX Union and hear all about the big meeting to unionise VFX London for 2016 coming up on Wednesday the 13th. Don’t miss out!

2016 is going to be an amazing year!

green-flag

Look for the green flag!

Posted in BECTU

New Year, New VFX Industry!

What a year! 2015 saw the comp department at MPC here in London unionise and 2016 promises many more exciting developments for the VFX Union – starting with the big meeting next Wednesday the 13th of January!

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 01.36.35

Unionise VFX London 2016!

BECTU is unionising the UK VFX industry. We aim to tackle the scandal of unpaid overtime and tortuous long hours in the VFX Sector.

Come along and hear what’s happening and how you can be part of this campaign.

WHEN
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 from 19:00 to 21:00 (GMT) 
WHERE
Regent Hall – 275 Oxford Street London W1C 2DJ GB

It’s a free event and if you work in VFX in London, then this is an essential event for you and your colleagues. Click on this link to register – see you there!

 

You know how you’ve been waiting for something to happen? Well… something’s happening!

 

Posted in BECTU, News

Happy Holidays! It’s the Thursday VFX Lunch Meet!

Come along to the Plaza, Oxford Street from 1:00-2:00pm today for our weekly networking hang out! This will be the last one for 2015 but we’ll be back stronger than ever with some exciting stuff for the new year on Thursday the 7th.

Thursday VFX Lunch Meet

in the food court at The Plaza, Oxford Street


from 1:00-2:00pm

Visual effects BECTU members and people who work in visual effect are meeting up every Thursday to talk about the union and issues that are interesting to people who work in the VFX here in London. This is a chance to change our industry from the ground up by connecting with like minded people and creating our own grassroots movement.

Look for the green flag!
green-flag

Posted in Uncategorized

Do supervisors / producers qualify for union membership?

Absolutely! Anyone in the UK VFX industry is welcome to join us, regardless of nationality, company or job. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a runner, a supervisor, a producer, an artist or a coder – if you agree with us, then we’d love to have you with us. As long as you work in the UK VFX industry and you want to see an improvement in how the industry treats its people, then that’s all that matters!

See more Frequently Asked Questions 

Posted in Uncategorized

Thursday VFX Lunch Meet today!

The comp department at MPC has unionised and this is an historic moment for the visual effects industry!

This is not about one department in one company. We want all the departments at MPC to join comp and unionise. We want all of the vfx workers at all of the facilities in London to join with us.

Now is the time for action! Someone isn’t going to do this for you. We all need to make it happen together! Join the union now!

A great place to start is our weekly meet up every Thursday lunchtime.

Thursday VFX Lunch Meet

in the food court at The Plaza, Oxford Street

from 1:00-2:00pm

Look for the green flag!

Come along to talk about what’s happening with unionisation at MPC, all the issues we want to address and how you can get involved. Last week we had over 100 people show up and it was truly amazing! The energy and enthusiasm in London for this is off the charts! Everybody who works in Visual Effects in London is up for this. All you have to do is join the union and start making it happen now!

Posted in BECTU, News

Then and Now


2015-2013-VFXUNION

Posted in Uncategorized

I like the idea, but I don’t want to make a fuss – do I really have to join?

Firstly, remember that no one’s asking you to stick your neck out personally, as BECTU’s membership is completely confidential. Talks with the VFX companies are handled by experienced BECTU negotiators – not by individual VFX artists.

Secondly, there’s no middle ground here – either you join us or you don’t. Unfortunately, sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing is effectively the same as saying that you’re happy with things as they are.

Individuals have been trying to get the VFX studios to fix excessive overtime for years now. The VFX studios have had many opportunities to tackle the problem, but their efforts have been superficial at best, and non-existent at worst. At the end of the day, every VFX company is a business and is trying to make money – and overtime is “free money” in the form of work that they don’t have to pay for. It’s unrealistic to expect the VFX companies to change their behaviour unless something gives them a decent financial reason to do so. This is our one chance to do exactly that – but only if we choose to.

To get union recognition, all we need to do is to show the CAC that a certain percentage of a company or a department supports us and wants to see overtime reduced. If we get the number of members we need, we can fix things in that company or department. If we don’t, we can’t.

If you disagree with us for some reason, then we can respect that (although we’d love to know why – please consider leaving a comment on this site or getting in touch!). But if you do support us, even privately, then please sign up. It takes just a few minutes, and costs very little compared for the potential reward of getting normal working hours in the VFX industry. If our bid for recognition doesn’t work then you can always cancel your membership. But remember – doing nothing and waiting for others to sort it out is the same as saying you’re happy with things as they are. This is our best and only shot at this.

What are your evenings and weekends worth to you?

From the vfxforum.org Frequently Asked Questions

Posted in Uncategorized