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11/06/2010

Low Budget's In Scotland Raise Union Hackles

BECTU has registered its opposition to two independent productions being filmed in Scotland.
Decoy Bride, an Ecosse Films production starring David Tennant and Laid Off a production by Wilder Films, have both been accused by Scottish freelances of offering rates of pay far below the established rates of pay for experienced crew.
Several emails to the BECTU office in Scotland have complained about the low rates of pay being offered by Ecosse; the indications are that the company is offering £300 less per week on Decoy Bride than experienced freelances expect to be paid.
Other reports suggest that Wilder Films have only offered around half the normal rates to ordinary freelances while heads of department are on a net profit share deal.
BECTU has contacted the HMRC as there are concerns that Decoy Bride may be paying rates to some freelances which fall below the statutory minimum wage.
Scottish freelances are also expressing their anger at reports that freelances from outside Scotland are being offered much higher rates, with allowances for accommodation, whilst they are expected to spend up to four hours a day travelling to the shoot in the Borders on top of a minimum 11 hour working day.
BECTU has asked departing Scottish Screen Chief Executive, Ken Hay, for an urgent meeting to discuss these projects. The agency has reportedly made a £300,000 investment in Decoy Bride.
Paul McManus, BECTU's Scottish Organiser, has pledged his support for crew who have refused work on these projects and believes their stand should be supported by freelances across Scotland.
He said: "Too often people feel they are forced into accepting this type of work in order to make ends meet. I totally respect and support the courage shown by Scottish freelances in sending a clear message to companies that they should not seek to come to Scotland and exploit the freelance workforce in this way.
"I am pretty sure David Tennant will not be working for the minimum wage!" he concluded.
BECTU have also written to the incoming Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, Andrew Dixon, to request an urgent review of funding criteria which currently permits financial support for productions which offer 'ridiculously low wages.'
Paul McManus said: "I find it outrageous that hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money can be given to a company whose actions then provoke complaints about payment of the minimum wage.
"We will do everything in our power to make Creative Scotland much more vigorous in demanding acceptable standards from the companies it is funding."
(BMcN/GK)
VMI.TV Ltd

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