Global Unions Call for End of 'Excessive Hours' for TV and Film Workers

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Unions representing TV and film workers in 22 countries have joined together to call for the end of “excessive hours” within the industry.

A report published by UNI Global Union found that excessive hours, lack of rest and “life-threatening levels of fatigue” are having a devastating impact on workers’ physical and mental health and family lives.

It gathered data on collective agreements, working hours and terms and conditions from 28 unions in 22 countries, representing more than 150,000 behind-the-scenes crew members in feature film production, independent television production and streaming content production.

Of those surveyed for the report, 62% said the intensity of their work schedules “negatively impacted their mental wellbeing.” while more than a quarter of respondents in independent television production said extreme fatigue had resulted in grave accidents.

It also found that on average TV and film crews are working at least 11 hours per day, plus, at minimum, an additional one to two hours for “prep and wrap” duties before and after filming.

Work in excess of 50, or even 60, hours per week is common, continues the report, citing the UK where workers average 50 hours per week, not including prep and wrap time. In other countries, including Iceland and Sweden, daily prep and wrap time is included in maximum hours standards.

Johannes Studinger, head of UNI MEI, said: “The media industries have long-relied on people’s passion to drive long-hours, often at workers’ expense, but we’ve reached a breaking point where workers are saying that creating quality productions cannot rest on exploitation. Workers in the film and TV industry, which is dominated by multinational companies, are too often operating under sweatshop conditions that allow dangerously little time for rest and painfully little time for family life. That’s why we are demanding change across the board.”

The full report is available to read here (opens in new tab).

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Jenny Priestley

Jenny has worked in the media throughout her career, joining TVBEurope as editor in 2017. She has also been an entertainment reporter, interviewing everyone from Kylie Minogue to Tom Hanks; as well as spending a number of years working in radio. She continues to appear on radio every week and occasionally pops up on TV.