MPC argument against unionisation no. 1


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:

It’s selling out! Register to ensure your place (free)

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!


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.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 from 19:00 to 21:00 (GMT) 
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!

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


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 Frequently Asked Questions

Posted in Uncategorized

What if I don’t work much VFX overtime?

Then you’re very lucky! However, remember that this is issue is not just about you – it’s about your friends and colleagues too.

How many of them have you seen regularly working late without pay? How often do you see them queueing up for the company dinner in your office each evening, especially around a deadline? Do you feel comfortable about that? Try asking some of them about the comments from the MPC Variety article or the VFX overtime survey – how many of them are genuinely happy about working conditions in the VFX industry right now?

You don’t need to be working excessive VFX overtime yourself to agree with us that the industry needs to change.


Posted in BECTU

New game. New rules. 

Welcome to the Brave New World of Visual Effects! 

The compositing department at MPC has unionised and the global response has been amazing! The Hollywood Reporter covered the story and now fxguide has a post up on their website as well. Twitter has gone bananas on the subject and Reddit is doing that thing that Reddit does!

But this is not just about the comp department at MPC. This is about ALL the departments at MPC. This is about ALL the Visual Effects facilities in London. This is about the whole of the Visual Effects Industry around the world!

So many people in vfx tell me that they’d like to have a union, but they’re waiting for something to happen. Well, guess what? Something’s happening!

You know that train you’ve been waiting for? It’s pulling out of the station right now! Jump on board!

To all VFX Union members: you need to start talking to your coworkers around you and get them to join and you need to get started now! No one else is going to do this for us. Stop sitting around waiting for someone to do something. YOU need to do something! We ALL need to take action now to make this happen! 

How do members get non members at work to join the vfx union?

Simple. Stop and chat with your fellow vfx workers. Talk with them one on one.

Ask them if they’ve heard about the union. Ask them if they’ve thought about joining. Most of your coworkers will say yes to both of those questions. They might even tell you they’re already a member! Result! Now you’ve got someone to help recruit more members!

It’s all about talking and connecting with people. It’s so easy to get a bit isolated in this industry and lost in our own little worlds, but I’ve found almost everyone will really open up when the subject of the vfx union is raised. It’s something people in vfx like talking about.

Engage with them on the subject. Tell them about and our terrific set of FAQ’s where they’ll find an answer to almost any question they can think of. Tell them your opinions on the industry and unionisation but more importantly, listen to theirs. 

You will almost always find that they agree to join in that first conversation, but don’t stop there – this is just the beginning of the process!

Go back to them the next day and ask them if they’ve signed up. Most likely they didn’t but don’t despair and don’t give up. Answer any questions they might have or just pick up the chat where you left off yesterday. Do it again the next day. Repeat these visits until they tell you they have signed up. Usually no fewer than 3-4 return chats in my experience. Often many more. Seriously… Don’t give up.

Don’t get frustrated. Everybody WANTS to join, but there is a journey from wanting to join to actually joining that you need to guide them on. 

Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) are very real in our industry and for many, it is not a trivial thing to break away from it. Short term contracts, demands for overtime, constantly moving from one facility to the next – even moving countries to chase the work has left most of us feeling vulnerable and insecure about our livelihood. Everybody has bills, families, mortgages to worry about and nobody want to put that at risk. It shouldn’t be, but joining the union can be a scary prospect for many of us. For people in our industry, the FUD is a very, very real thing. 

Everybody who hesitates joining will give may different reasons, but it all boils down to FUD. The good news is, virtually everyone agrees with the idea of a union and nobody wants FUD to rule their lives. 

Perseverance. That’s what it takes. They won’t come to you, so you must go to them and in time, they will eventually sign up. They always do because it’s what they want. They told you that in your first conversation with them!

Good luck everyone!


Posted in BECTU, Media, News