A prominent member of the British Parliament has called on UK media giant ITV to make a deal with the WGA East. The union has been trying to get a contract with the company for the past four years covering writers and producers employed by ITV Studios America’s reality TV shows. That roster now includes the new Neil Patrick Harris-toplined variety show for NBC, which WGA East this week threatened to strike if it didn’t use guild writers.
“The WGAE is a respected union that represents thousands of screenwriters across film and television,” wrote Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Culture, the Creative Industries and Communications, in a letter to ITV CEO Adam Crozier. “I am sure you agree that workers should be afforded at least basic rights and protections, therefore I hope you will encourage your colleagues in America to work with the WGAE.”
In its long battle with ITV for a contract, the guild has accused the company of working its writers and producers in “sweatshop” conditions. After the guild threatened to strike the Harris project, the actor, a longtime union supporter, came to the union’s defense, tweeting “Know this: My variety show will absolutely be crafted by union writers. I’ve been assured by ITV that it will be a WGA show. Period.”
At least the WGA East and ITV are bargaining for a contract. The two sides met Monday but aren’t close to reaching a deal.
“Several years ago, ITV’s writer-producers on the East Coast voted to be represented in collective bargaining by WGAE,” Goodman told Crozier. “Under U.S. law, ITV Studios America is therefore required to negotiate and form a contract with the guild. The WGAE is asking for basic working rights such as minimum compensation, health benefits and paid holiday. I am concerned that for a long time ITV failed to engage with the guild and that more recent talks to form a contract have been unsuccessful. It is therefore in everyone’s interests that negotiations are resumed and a satisfactory resolution reached as soon as possible.”
An ITV rep did not return calls for comment.