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Factual TV workers still feeling the squeeze

A second annual survey of people working in Canada’s factual TV production sector reveals a lack of employment security and excessive working hours, confirming the trends identified a year ago. The latest online survey was conducted by the Canadian Media Guild between June and September 2014.

“Canadian media has never been more competitive, with strong performance internationally,” wrote one survey respondent. “Canadian workers are higher-skilled than ever, but the ‘bottom line’ of these giant profit makers is so low it’s really killing us.”

Most of those who are working put in excessive hours and many have multiple demands on them. Two-thirds of respondents reported working more than 40 hours per week in their current or most recent job, with 10 per cent working more than 60 hours per week. Half of the respondents said they are expected to perform duties that are not directly related to what they were hired to do in addition to their regular job. Only a small proportion of those doing more than one job – 12 per cent – got paid for the additional responsibility.

“To be saddled with two to three jobs, and to work overtime and not be compensated, is something we struggle with every day,” commented another survey respondent.

Six per cent of respondents reported suffering a workplace accident or injury in the last year. Of those, more than one-third missed work because of it.

In all, 70 per cent of respondents are engaged as freelancers with no access to benefits or paid vacation. Only half worked at least 11 of the previous 12 months and more than one-quarter worked less than 9 months of the last year. Nearly 30 per cent were not working at the time they answered the survey; of those not working, less than one-quarter were receiving employment insurance.

You can see a more detailed summary of the initial survey results here.

A second report on the 2014 results will focus on what workers are earning in factual TV production. That report will be available later in October.

This year’s survey was completed by 195 workers. The Canadian Media Guild is supporting factual TV workers to improve conditions in this growing sector of Canada’s film and TV production industry. Dozens of workers have already signed on to create a collective voice for change. To find out more, get in touch with Karen Wirsig (karen@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333, ext. 222 or toll-free 1-800-465-4149.

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