Bectu has called on the industry to treat bullying and harassment as a sector-wide issue that needs collective action.
The union is preparing to publish more accounts of bullying, harassment and sexual assault as part of its #UnseenOnScreen campaign and this week called on Channel 4 to discuss how it monitors standards at its indie suppliers.
“The purpose of the campaign is not to single out individuals, but rather to focus on how industry stakeholders can work collectively to improve working conditions,” said Bectu's unscripted bullying and harassment officer Meriel Beale.
“If the whole industry pulls together we can minimise incidents, ensure that victims get a fair hearing and deal with cases of bullying seriously.”
Awareness that bullying and harassment has been widely ignored in the industry has grown since the #MeToo movement. However there are concerns that any progress in the last couple of years could be lost due to the pandemic, given the impact it has had on production budgets and the layers of complexities it has added to working conditions. To help combat this, ScreenSkills and DV Talent have been been running a series of Leadership and Management Essentials workshops to train senior execs in how to create a healthy working environment, while The Talent Manager has launched a RateChecker to so freelancers can better monitor - and maintain - pay rates.
Union head Philippa Childs added: "Bullying at work is never acceptable and it is important to stress that it is not isolated to just one production or indeed any one individual,” she said. "As a union, ensuring nobody has to suffer bullying at work is part of our DNA. Change is not impossible. There is no excuse for bullying, yet survey after survey shows how prevalent it is in the TV industry.”
Prompted by allegations about incidents on Studio Lambert's C4 show Gogglebox, reported in the Guardian, Bectu has taken the opportunity to remind broadcasters and indies of the BAFTA/BFI Dignity at Work template policy. Drawn up in 2019, this offers guidance for companies to build their own measures for tadckling and preventing bullying and harassment.
The policy sets out the BFI’s position that further guidance on workplace culture and processes for dealing with unfair behaviour is needed “where workers are often freelance, working on short-term contracts to different employers on-set and in production offices”.
Studio Lambert has said it takes staff welfare “extremely seriously across all our productions and does not tolerate bullying or misconduct” while C4, which sets out it own expectations in its supplier code of conduct and operates a whistleblowing service for anyone observing or experiencing bullying and harassment on its productions, has stated it is “satisfied" that the indie "enforces appropriate standards of behaviour across the shows it makes for us”.