Promoting dignity at work in entertainment productions
The audiovisual and live performance sectors are facing profound changes across Europe. Globalisation and digitalisation are transforming not only the business models of the entertainment industry but are changing the way entertainment is produced, distributed and consumed.
Austerity policies have let to severe and structural reductions in public funding for arts and culture including in film, TV and live performance. This concerns equally public broadcasters that commission film productions, as well as publicly funded live entertainment institutions. The financial and economic crisis has exacerbated this tendency and affects privately and public funded productions.
The reduction of public funding has increased competition for funds and pressure on crew and staff costs. The industry’s fragmentation is further accentuated, as an increasingly bigger part of productions is being outsourced. Outsourcing to small and medium sized companies contributes to rise of a-typical form of employment: an ever-increasing number of work is contracted with self-employed workers or short-term employed workers. A relatively large proportion of workers work in micro-workplaces, and the percentage of workers who work for SMEs is above the average of the European Union.
Despite all economic, technological and structural changes taking place, entertainment remains very labour intensive and depends on a highly qualified and mobile freelance workforce.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, trade unions from various countries of the EU affiliated to UNI Global Union have reported that working conditions have deteriorated and the barriers to negotiate agreement to secure minimum standards have been multiplied. Long working hours, recurrent use of overtime enable production companies to meet deadlines and budget objectives and to ensure performances of scheduled shows in theatres and on tour. The pressure on producers to lower costs has increased over the past years, which in turn puts pressure on working conditions. In an environment of increasing competition for funding of productions, employers pursue a race to the bottom pushing down remuneration and working conditions. As part of such strategies, we see more productions or part of productions being moved to countries with lower labour standards and weak or no collective agreements than in the past. This creates pressure on economic and social sustainable production centres and establishes a double standard in co-productions and international productions.
Further, entertainment unions have experienced that the implementation of the EU’s internal market and competition policies prevent the enforcement of the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining of many freelancers.
These ad-hoc assessments lacked a more systematic overview of rights and working conditions in film & TV production and live entertainment in the European Union.
Therefore, we have set out in October 2014 to undertake a project “dignity@work” aiming at taking stock of the situation of key working conditions by mapping the changes that are taking place in the sector, assessing how they are affecting the workers, and how unions can respond by engaging employers and authorities in a dialogue over dignity in the workplace.
This project “dignity@work”, which is co-funded by the Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission has started in October 2014 and will conclude in June 2016. This report is a one of the results of the project. In the framework of this project, we have organised two workshops on working conditions in film & TV production and in live performance production, as well as a European seminar bringing together workers and trade union representatives from both sectors. We now look forward to present the findings and to discuss with employers, funding bodies and authorities how to improve conditions and make working in the entertainment industry more sustainable.
This report takes stock of the situation of key factors that determine working conditions in film & TV and live performance productions in 14 European countries. It is based on in-depth research through analysis of previously published studies and data on the subject, written questionnaires, face-to-face interviews with trade union representatives and members. The events organised in the framework of the project “dignity@work” have contributed to the survey and the finalisations of this report. The survey report is complemented by an online survey among more than 2000 workers - trade union members and non-members alike - from the countries surveyed and beyond.
What are the key lessons learned?
The report highlights the shortcomings in the industry with respect to decent work and core labour standards. The findings of the report underline that across the EU Internal Market entertainment workers are facing increasing casualization, deterioration of working conditions and remuneration in an environment where many workers are excluded from collective representation and bargaining. Despite the many similarities and closeness between film & TV and the live entertainment sectors, they have different work patterns, employment structures, trade union and collective bargaining coverage. However, the survey clearly shows that the predominance of freelance work, long hours and the recurrent use of overtime characterise the working environment of the entertainment industry. Salaries and wages have either stagnated or decreased and the majority of respondents (eighty-one percent) of the online survey state that workings conditions either have deteriorated or have not improved in recent years.
In this unsecure and deteriorating environment, abusive practices such as unpaid work and internships, non-compensation of overtime and repetitive long working hours pose a serious and structural threat to the sustainability of jobs in a highly mobile and flexible labour market.
The input of workers and trade union representatives who participated in the survey and contributed to this report emphasises that the issue of stagnating/decreasing remuneration as well as management of working time needs to be addressed as first priorities for improving conditions and decent work.
To download a summary of the report click below.