UK VFX Union?

Vancouver’s IATSE local 891 blog posted this interesting info:

Recently we became apprised of BECTU’s outreach to VFX artists working in London, England. BECTU is the UK’s media and entertainment trade union, the voice for British entertainment workers. In the interest of those readers who are working in the UK or maybe planning to in the future, the following was sent out to VFX artists working at companies known for noncompliance with employment laws:

I’m not very familiar with BECTU or even the latest happenings of the UK industry but I think they might have traction in the areas of salary and overtime. Each region has it’s goods and bads. I’ve written a lot about them for California especially pertaining to the health insurance situation, but the UK and Canada health care problems aren’t as bad. However, many UK artists are on day rates and the salaries are quite low when you factor in London being one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you are a UK artist that contacts them let me know. I’d be interested in hearing how it works and would be happy to forward any info to help out.

You all wanted a global union, it seems we are slowly creeping towards it.

Soldier On.


25 Responses to UK VFX Union?

  1. maple leaf eh! says:

    Its great that an organization is stepping forward to represent the UK artists.

    Majority of UK facilities are all based on day rates. Its great if your working 8 hours but 10 hours is the standard WHEN its not busy.

  2. Michael says:

    oh please. 10 hours standard? Do you even work in the uk?

  3. Fxperson says:

    After 5 years of doing CG for ad agencies and architects I now do vfx in London for one of the biggest movies this year. I do work 10h/day when it’s not busy.

    I get no paid OT, when I work weekends I get the standard rate which is less than £100/day.

    Obviously no union going, don’t know anyone who’s in a union. But we do talk a lot about it.

    • Blake says:

      5 years, and you only get £100/day for a lighting td? That doesn’t seem right to me.Thats like a junior comp rate for film in London

  4. Dave says:

    So you work till 8pm every night? even when not busy? Do you start at 9pm? So starting at 9am till 8pm?

    I see a lot of people working late that come in at 10am +.

    Most people still get out the door earlier.

    i’ve been in london for three years. The people that stay late every day come in stupidly late. In the end they aren’t working any hours longer. In quiet times people are getting out 1 hour earlier.

  5. Fxperson says:

    I usually get in around 9.30 and leave around 8. Sometimes I leave on time, sometimes I work longer. But yeah 50h/week is average.

    All lighters stay those hours pretty much.

    I do see people leave 6 sharp every day, but they’re not lighting td’s 🙂

  6. maple leaf eh! says:

    Ya sorry to say but less than 100 a day is on the low end for someone with 5 years experience. That’s almost a runners wage. You should be getting nothing lower than 200-250 a day

    Check out, its not the best but it could help and ask your lighter friends (or someone you get along with) what the average rate should be for 5 years experience. Or go to another facility.

    10 hour days is average for most of those London facilities on a day rate. It may vary based on discipline. And than during crunch time, you work the 12-16 hours and enjoy your lovely dinner to go with the day rate.

  7. anon says:

    Hey Fxperson, is this place that company with pictures that don’t stand still?
    If so, they’re notorious for trying to underpay people, and it usually works with people who come from either Europe or people from lower end commercials, as they get lured in by the fact that they get to work on these big block busters.
    Time to move around a bit and get that rate up.
    If the HR people haven’t already exchanged what your rates is. (This happened to a guy i know the other day)

  8. Nick Lambert says:

    I’m currently a BECTU member & have been a union representative in the past.
    I will contact them & try & find out some more information on the VFX side of things. This is an interesting turn of events, my involvement started due to being
    in the television industry.

  9. mananama says:

    First rule of the game is to know your value.

  10. anon says:

    100 pounds a day is ridiculously low for 5 years exp.

    In the UK, simply set a time for yourself which is sensible to leave during the week. Say if you are salaried, and ‘core’ hours are 9-6 (like for example at Dneg), get in at 9 and when you are on top of your work leave at 6. When you have to stay late, stay no later than 7. If you have to do more OT than that to get your tasks done, then come in on the weekend. It’s not ideal, but coming in on the weekend will always give you something for your time, at straight time pay or TOIL.

  11. Norman Ray says:

    Wow, how can that be possible to read UNION and VFX UK in the same sentence ?

    That’s a tremendous start.

    Well, no one should be surprised when experienced people get paid that low… is it 100£ net FxPerson ?

    As far as I was concerned, I was paid half of it a day as an animator (not intern, pro) in my early years in a company people said they had the best salaries in SOHO… and of course a lot of unpaid OT and weekends with the eventual layoff for your good services.

    It’s like that for everyone in London, of course no one complains, the work doesn’t get better, the standards of quality are low and the clients are still pulling the deadline. Not even the production team and supervisors are stepping up for their artists.

    You wanna climb the ladder ? don’t even need to be talented and passionate about work, just go to the nearest pub on Friday and let’s pretend to be friends with your sups and production coordinators. Few rounds and you’ll get that star shot the next morning.
    Believe me, it works…

    So yeah, count me in.

  12. anon says:

    lol – so it’s:
    First world VFX Unions vs.
    The rapid expansion of globalized, capitalist, location independent digital production and liberalization of VFX technology

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, don’t you think that it’s possible to have a different business models ?
      I found different work ethics in various companies or smaller studios which weren’t as dodgy as some in Soho.

      So why draw that same old card ?

      It doesn’t take a Phd to realize that Capitalism has failed.

      For example, I’m wondering why no one ever thought of doing a VFX co-op ? serious.

  13. Anon_and_on says:

    Bafta and the Ves have more resonance amongst Vfx artists than Bectu. 10 years working in soho and film and no one ever mentioned Bectu once.

    Only way I can see any change is with Ves involvement and if they open a pub in Soho 🙂

  14. ain't gonna say says:

    Some people here really are spouting a load of bollocks. You think everyone is working shitty hours for low pay just because you are? I think it’s more a case that you allowed yourself to get screwed over and have now deluded yourself into believing that’s the case with everyone so you’ll feel better. Five years in London now, ten in the industry, hace done time at all the big London vfx houses, and I walk out the door at 18:30 every day, and have a good salary to boot. When people get lowballed and overworked, they need to point the finger of blame at themselves, first and foremost.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      What about when companies engage in wage collusion?

    • Anonymous says:

      C’mon, is this a joke? don’t you think that things have changed in ten years, even 5 ?
      So easy shouting from your senior or potential lead/supervisor velvet seat on the floor above, mate.

      Of course, guys like you get away leaving at 18.30, sounds like you don’t get production assistant checking your team cubicles at these hours (and morning too), no matter how great you’re doing your job.

      Wake up, this is the 21st century.

  15. frank says:

    London is a major sweatshop- with government blessing – and is probably driving the whole industry down worldwide. Really, its no coincidence that Charles Dickens wrote so much about slave labor and serfdom here.

    The big vfx/cg/production houses use the EU’s poorer countries as a factory line for proverbial ‘children-up-chimnleys’. This works hand in hand with private and publically funded training schemes. Private training centres develop relationships with the studios, provide a minimum training in one or two tasks, tempting often very young people from Romania, Turkey, Spain, Italy, India, China, with promises of fantastic careers (that do not exist with such huge numbers they process), and so, with a minimum training, the studios can ship people in at short notice for a few weeks to do one specific taks, then lay them off as ‘freelancers’ at will. Its a revolving door, the kids are often living in ghetto areas on the edge of town, 10 to a small appartment, living some sort of twighlight student lifestyle, even in their 30’s and 40’s.

    They also claim training subsidies from taxpayers from official government training schemes for domestic workers and local colleges under pretense of supporting UK film/television industries, when really the money is used to subsidise the company profits with a token gesture towards training criteria, relying instead on this short term ,unregulated use of poor kids coming from other countries.

    Nothing much has changed since Dickens time in London.

  16. […] gets the oil. I’ve been one of the first to get word out about unionization efforts in the UK, and […]

  17. […] written posts on organization movements in Vancouver and the UK. I’ve written posts on workers being mistreated in India at Prime Focus. I’ve written […]

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