UNI Europa backs US writers’ union in dispute with ITV

Tuesday 8 May 2018

ITV is in the hot-seat as it heads into its May 10th Annual General Meeting amid concerns about diversity and the treatment of women employees within its production operations in the U.K., as well as in America.

Members of BECTU and the Writers Guild of America East will be joining forces next Thursday 10 May in a protest at the ITV Shareholders’ Meeting in central London.

Standing together against discrimination and unequal pay
In the U.S., ITV’s management received a letter from a group of diverse employees who painted a disturbing picture of how the company treats women and people of colour. Christi Henry, one of the letter signees who has since left the company, explained, “We wrote ITV management as a group of women of colour to inform them about what we consider systematic discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and overtime violations that we experienced while working on two of the company’s most prominent programs. We called for both equal pay with our white male colleagues and opportunities for growth at ITV, specifically at the field producer level, which is currently almost exclusively held by men.”

Our Fight for Freedom of Assoctiation
Ms. Henry and staff of the Writers Guild of America, East, as well as members of BECTU and the Writers Guild of Great Britain, will protest at ITV’s Annual General Meeting on May 10th. The action calls on ITV enter a collective bargaining agreement with the WGAE, just as other U.S. nonfiction TV production companies have done.   The Guild has proposed contract terms that would directly address the concerns raised by Ms. Henry and her former colleagues at the company.

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, noted that “ITV’s new CEO Carolyn McCall and investors should be deeply troubled by its production operations in the United States, which have been touted as one of the company’s key sources of profit and growth. In the U.S., ITV employees overwhelmingly voted to unionize because they believe the best way to get management to address their pressing concerns is a collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately, ITV has done nothing but stall and resist as employees’ concerns about working conditions and protections continue to mount.”

Global Solidarity Support for US Writers and the WGAE
Gerry Morrissey, head of the BECTU Sector of Prospect and President of UNI’s Media and Entertainment Sector, said: “We have appealed on several occasions to ITV plc to develop a constructive relationship with WGAE to echo the relationship the company has with BECTU here in the UK. We believe the company’s resistance to engaging with the WGAE reflects badly on the company’s management.

UNI Global Union and its media, entertainment sector support WGAE in its campaign. UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings recently wrote ITV CEO McCall, saying, “UNI Global Union believes that multi-national media companies such as ITV must honour the labour standards in the nations in which it conducts operations.  This includes honouring the provisions of the standard collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the unions in those nations. Unfortunately, in the United States ITV has taken the opposite path, at least in its unscripted/nonfiction television units.  This is simply not the way to do business in an industry that relies on its professional employees to create and distribute content.”

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labour union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programmes, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government.

The BECTU Sector of Prospect is the UK’s media and entertainment union and has recognition agreements with employers across the creative sectors. The union represents staff and freelancers working in broadcasting, film, theatre and live events and allied areas. BECTU has a long-standing collective bargaining agreement with ITV plc.