Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Closing the Shop?

On March 9 I emailed SIPTU's communications section as follows (italics below). I have not received a reply. I may be wrong but I'm getting the impression that there are some efforts being made to enforce the new technician's union and producers' agreement by, in effect, creating a new 'closed shop' in the industry and that there is a degree of collusion in this on the part of producers, SIPTU and the Irish Film Board.

I hope I'm wrong because I do believe in fair conditions for workers and in their right to collective bargaining but I do not believe that union membership should be compulsory.

Email to SIPTU, March 9 -
I'm looking into the current extent of union organisation among freelance technicians working in film and television production in Ireland.

I have heard anecdotally that some 70% of people now working on a freelance basis in the sector are not union members and that this has become a hindrance to the working of the new, recent agreement between SIPTU and the producers' representative organisation Screen Producers Ireland. I have also heard that producers are having to urge non-union member technicians to obtain status with SIPTU, in the absence of worker organisation, when the producers are hiring them.

I note that the SIPTU website (Film & Entertainment Branch) contains no information on the new agreement or on the terms and working conditions that now obtain in the industry. Nor does it make any reference to agreements on 'Special Projects' (those productions with particular budgetary constraints), to Irish language production, or to the extent to which the new agreement applies - is it a national agreement or is it only regionally appropriate (to Dublin).

I have also heard, again anecdotally, that disputes are still arising on productions and, it has been said, that SIPTU representatives have been somewhat heavy-handed in their approach to dispute resolution.

I would appreciate any comment on the above together with a breakdown of paid-up (in benefit) Freelance Technician member numbers for the last five years.


Denis said...

Ted, do you have any links to the text of the new agreement to which you refer? Would be interested in the details.

irish film portal said...

Denis, I don't - and I'm surprised that SIPTU (when last I looked) had put nothing up on their site about it. Some months ago I did see a listing of the new pay rates for technicians somewhere online but I'm not sure if they were 'official'.

Anonymous said...

So with new agreement all shooting Crew have to be a members of SIPTU.It is illegal to force people to join a Union and you can't let them all go and re hire them and also according to the new agremeent the production cannot be interfered with while these issues are being dealt with ? well thought out after 5 years ?

irish film portal said...

I think you're being conservative with 'five years'. It's been more like ten. But yes, far more questions than answers and a poor example of 'partnership' at work for the greater good.