The stories are hard to read, but point to an uncomfortable reality in the production industry — workplace bullying.
As Anti-Bullying Week, which began on Monday (Nov. 16), reaches its mid-point, UK creative industries trade union Bectu is collecting anonymous stories from workers within the unscripted business that recount incidents of bullying and sharing them via social media and a dedicated web portal as part of its #UnseenOnScreen initiative.
In many of the posts, the writers say they didn’t file complaints, with some saying they feared for their jobs, and others citing lack of HR departments or other chains of accountability at the prodcos they were working for.
In many of the submissions, those posting say they were working as freelancers on the productions where the bullying took place.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Unscripted TV: Development, Editorial and Production branch of Bectu, a UK-based trade union for the media and entertainment industries that claims more than 40,000 members, in collaboration with the UK’s Film & TV Charity. In the wake of increased attention being paid to mental health within the screen production industry in the UK, and how working conditions for the freelance sector both under normal circumstances and during the pandemic can contribute to potential mental health issues, freelance producer Meriel Beale is serving as Bectu’s bullying and harassment officer.
The union issued a call for submissions via social media last week. Potential respondents were asked to submit their personal accounts of workplace bullying via a Google form, and to refrain from using any language that could identify them, their workplace, or the perpetrators.
“This campaign is about giving people the chance to be heard, but doing it in a way where they can still feel safe, because when you’re being bullied or harassed one thing you do not feel is safe,” said Beale in a statement supplied to Realscreen.
“From the messages I’ve had this also is helping people to feel less alone. In a largely freelance industry, on short-term contracts, it’s often hard to find a community or know where to turn. This is the first step; empowering people and supporting them so that they have the courage to speak.
“We’re only going to change the industry if we do it together.”