In late August, the Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) convened a meeting at Museum Africa, inviting representative bodies of the film and television industry such as the

oct-CWUSA
Oupa Lebogo, General Secretary CWUSA
CPA, IPO, GFC, NFVF, DTI, Association of SA Film Crew Agents.

 

Commenting on the meeting, its purpose and issues discussed, Chair Oupa Lebogo, the General Secretary of CWUSA, said:

"We are trying to have a relationship with the employer bodies, and the key issues are around the creative industry.

"We need to define ourselves as to how we employ our employees  that's one issue -  and it became clear that the creative industry should begin to articulate the issue as to what the situation is in terms of creative workers. The challenge, however, seems to be around trying to determine who are the employers.

"When you look at actors for instance, at the end of the day they are employed by agencies, so it's quite clear that there is an employer; and secondly you look at the technicians who actually are behind the scenes, but in a pivotal role because they ensure that a project or programme happens. We need to create an environment conducive to discussion and working harmoniously so that at least we don't actually have tension between ourselves and employers that relationship is important.

"You also need to look at the working environment, how do you look at the contracts for instance, how do you look at issues of social security? We are at the stage where we are about to implement social security protection for the entire country.

"The meeting was so broad in terms of the employers ' they have challenges ' one of them being issues of training and another of contracts. Take the Muvhango soapie issue with the SABC. We were told that it has been canned and at the end of the day, that impacts on our members because any production that has been canned obviously means there are job losses on our side, and we can not afford this when inflation rate is so high.

"In a nutshell these were the issues that we debated and discussed," said Lebogo.

Bobby Amm, Executive Officer of the Commercial Producers Association (CPA), who was present at the meeting, said aside from government departments, there were very few bodies representing the industry who attended.

"The main points of discussion were:

  1. Training & transformation in the industry - the lack of progress in training due to the current status of the SETA.

  2. Proposed union benefits for members - i.e. how to get union members onto packages which include funeral cover, death and disability insurance, medical aids etc and how should this be funded.

  3. The Bargaining Council - the idea is to get a sectoral determination for the industry but because there are no employer bodies represented at the Council, the Union does not have anyone to negotiate with.  They want to petition the Minister of Labour to compel employer organisations to the Council - if he does and they refuse, then the Union would be in a position to draw up the sectoral determination on its own.  This also raises the debate on the status of freelance workers in the industry - are they employees of production companies or independent contractors," queries Amm.

    She said there was also a presentation by the NFVF on their role in formalising co-production treaties and by the DTI on the rebate and 24F, and also "a discussion about the role of the service sector, with the union expressing its desire to see a consultative body like the Consultative Committee reinstated by Home Affairs.  This leads to questions regarding work permits and if they should be reinstated or not."

    Lebogo said he felt the meeting went well.   "I think it's fascinating that we actually engaged ourselves with the employers and it has been very interesting in that sometimes we have a fear of the unknown and believe that there will be much resistance from the employers because these guys are talking labour issues.  We didn't realise that they also have issues that they would like to be resolved, and at the end of the day they found that the union is playing that role and that they would also like to play that role as well."

    Amm adds: "It was agreed that a team should be put together to look at challenges to training Oupa Lebogo, who is on the Board of the MAPPP-SETA, wants to positively influence them regarding the industry's training requirements.  As far as I know, this working committee comprises of Lebogo, myself, Heather Setzen and Basil Dube but there may be one or two others.  We had a casual meeting on Monday the 1st of September which was just an informal chat to discuss how to take things forward. This working committee will meet up and CWUSA wants to organise a training summit within the next few months to address the issues."

    Lebogo concludes:  "We were overwhelmed by the response and the input we received was great"