UNI Global Union affiliates in the media, entertainment and arts today endorsed an ambitious four-year strategy at the start of its General Assembly designed to build worker and union power in the sector.
Over 100 trade union leaders from affiliates around the world gathered online under the theme Engage People, Empower Union Action, for the meeting being held from 5 to 7 April. The conference takes place at a time of geopolitical turmoil and in the aftermath of the dramatic impact on the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our organizing and advocacy work is more important than ever,” said UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts (UNI MEI) President, Matthew D. Loeb, who is also International President of IATSE in the USA and Canada. “Freedoms and rights must never be taken for granted.”
In her opening speech, UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, praised the efforts of unions in the sector:
“You have worked harder than ever these past four years to protect your members from harm to both their health and to their economic security. To change the rules so that self-employed workers can organize, to protect the independent media a pillar of democracy. And to end sexual harassment in your industry. I salute you all.”
Participants unanimously endorsed a resolution outlining strategic priorities to:
The conference also heard from Miguel Paniagua, President of SUTEP (Argentina), Marie Ende, programme officer from Union to Union, Sonia Santana, President of SINDCINE (Brazil) and Gerardo Gonzalez, International Secretary, SATSAID (Argentina) on building capacity in Latin America.
Lowell Peterson from the Writers Guild of America East spoke about his union’s digital organizing campaign which succeeded in recruiting hundreds of new members working remotely during the pandemic, and John Lewis from IATSE (USA & Canada) analysed the impact of streaming services on the sector.
Christine Strindberg from Scen & Film (Sweden) and Matthias von Fintel from ver.di (Germany), gave insights on their respective negotiations with Netflix and spoke about remuneration agreements reached with the streaming giant.
Earlier in the day UNI Europa Media, Entertainment & Arts held their own General Assembly led by President William Maunier. The pandemic response and lessons learned were a key focus of discussions. Bectu’s (UK) Spencer MacDonald looked back to April 2020 when the pandemic broke and workers faced widespread unemployment and insecurity. Unionen’s Lise Iderström (Sweden) highlighted the need to adapt to the new reality of remote work.
Following the turmoil of the pandemic, low pay and the heavy workloads since work has resumed in both the live performance and audiovisual sectors, both ACV Puls’ Tijs Hostyn (Belgium) and FNV Media & Cultuur’s Andrée Ruiters (Netherlands) respectively highlighted union action towards levelling up pay and conditions to retain workers and attract people to these jobs.
Follow the conference on social media #EngageEmpower
See the UNI MEI Resolutions below.