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Members of film and TV industry "furious" over Northern Ireland Screen email discussing pay rises

Kelly MacDonald filming Line of Duty in Northern Ireland (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

Members of the Northern Ireland film and TV industry have said they have "lost confidence" in NI Screen after receiving an email discussing crew members asking for pay rises.

An email, seen by Belfast Live, issued on Wednesday by NI Screen's Head of Production Andrew Reid detailed how staff had been asking for rates that "far exceed even the direst inflationary predictions".

It also said that as the PRS scheme to insure productions against additional costs caused by Covidhad ended, there may be fewer projects happening in NI.

It added: "While Northern Ireland has enjoyed an unparalleled production boom in the past 12 years (and especially since 2020) it is still a bubble, and eventually, all bubbles burst."

However, those working within the industry have hit out against the claims that in order to "protect" the industry it must represent "good value for money".

One worker said that they believe that the talent in NI's film and TV industry should be reflected by being paid equally to their counterparts across the UK.

Speaking to Belfast Live, they said: "The email from NI Screen yesterday was a misinformed perception of rising crew rates for the Northern Ireland film industry, which for years have been well below UK recommended rates.

"We are asking for parity, reflecting the high level of experience in NI, while keeping in line with inflation and our lower living costs in comparison to that in Southeast England, to continue NI's success as a key filming destination for the future.

"We welcome the opportunity for this to finally be brought to light in an official capacity."

A spokesperson from the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) told Belfast Live that the email issued by NI Screen was a "huge error of judgement" that has left workers feeling "alienated" from a body meant to support them.

They said: "People are extremely angry at the content and tone of the email that was sent to them - there has been a furious response to this from the industry.

"We've been fielding so many comments that it is becoming difficult to keep on top of it. Bectu had no input into this email and we are not aware of anyone in the industry that did have any input into it which was the first error of judgement.

"For years, Northern Ireland's industry professionals have been underpaid in comparison to other UK counterparts and not just in London and the south-east but indeed in other regions - we also have a really high cost of living and the increases that people are now asking for is in response to this."

Bectu explained that resident crews in Northern Ireland should not be expected to be paid less to ensure that productions choose to come here to film, as the email details.

Union Street in Belfast city centre has been transformed into a 70s market street scene for the filming of new detective drama Dalgliesh (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

They continued: "The idea that people are being greedy when they have lost out for years, when they've had to go to other parts o the UK to get paid the going rate, is something that is really insulting to people here. They are being treated as second class workers in their own country - it's simply unbelievable.

"For NI Screen to describe this key, prestige industry in Northern Ireland which has become very established after the 12 last years as a bubble to burst is the worst own goal from an organisation that is in place to promote, develop and maintain the industry I have ever seen.

"This industry has brought so much positivity and publicity to Northern Ireland and it's just incredibly sad to see that erroneously described as a bubble."

The Bectu spokesperson added: "The people who are now being accused of being effectively greedy because they want to be paid the going rate, are the same people who overnight were put out of work because of Covid. Suffering with no income, not getting furloughed, not covered and this is how they are talked about.

"It's really unacceptable that people who had to survive on savings in many cases because of the nature of their employment are now being accused of wanting too much when all they want is the same treatment as everyone else."

A statement from Northern Ireland Screen said: "Northern Ireland Screen’s focus is on the long term sustainability and growth of the screen industry in Northern Ireland and a reminder that relative competitiveness is key to that sustainability and growth was deemed appropriate when reports of extreme rate inflation are being heard from many sources."


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2 comentários

Membro desconhecido
07 de mai. de 2022

This attitude is identical in Scotland with our quango for the screen sector. They perhaps are not quite so crass as to publish an email like that one.


Membro desconhecido
07 de mai. de 2022

As one of the few NI based grips, just wanted to add some context on our part. Up until Covid we were significantly underpaid when compared to the Bectu rates, especially for low-to-mid budget TV dramas. Since Covid we’ve managed to get our rate up to something respectable but still not at the actual stated rate. Which most of us are fine with as we know we’re not London. The comments made by Andrew were a kick in the teeth to all of the crew in NI, who just want a fair wage that reflects the insane cost of living and inflation rises we’ve seen. Especially as there have been numerous examples recently where a local has refused a job…

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