The report of the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht entitled 'Development and Working Conditions in the Irish Film Industry’, which was published last year called on the Irish Film Board (now Screen Ireland) to constitute a Film Forum to allow stakeholders to work together to develop mutually beneficial solutions for the industry. However, despite the efforts of Screen Ireland, it became clear that it was not possible to constitute a Film Forum as described by the Joint Committee as all the stakeholders were not prepared to meet as a single forum.
There was disagreement between various bodies representing employees and workers in the industry who would not agree to meet and given the contrary positions of the parties who should participate in the Film Forum, Screen Ireland informed the Joint Committee in December that it could not proceed without excluding one or more of the parties who should participate.
The original purpose of the proposed forum was to allow stakeholders to come together to develop solutions for the industry. There is a risk that now, rather than adopting a collaborative, inclusive and forward facing approach in an atmosphere where ideas are exchanged and developed for the good of the industry, the forum might constitute little more than the airing of disputes and past grievances. Disputes and grievances should be dealt with through the formal mechanisms of the State. The Government has a well-resourced labour inspectorate, which forms part of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and its core services include the inspection of employment rights compliance, the provision of information, adjudicating on complaints under employment protection, equality and industrial relations legislation and the provision of mediation, conciliation, facilitation and advisory services. Any person who believes that s/he has experienced discrimination which is contrary to the Employment Equality Acts may seek redress by referring a complaint to the WRC.
I have however, directed officials in my Department to consider if a mediation process might assist in addressing concerns and ultimately lead to a collaborative forum that would discuss proposals to advance the industry rather than focus on specific disputes that should be resolved through other channels.