Under the Creative Ireland Programme, the Government launched the Audiovisual Action Plan in June 2018. The Plan is a long-term, industry-wide strategy to enable Ireland to become a global hub for the production of Film, TV drama and animation. The Audiovisual Action Plan is underpinned by significant research and extensive consultation with stakeholders across the industry. Research was undertaken into the economic impact of the Audio-Visual Industry in Ireland and into training and skills development in the industry. The Action Plan places strong emphasis on actions relating to both training and the Section 481 tax relief.
At the same time, the Government established an Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to implement the Audiovisual Action Plan. The Steering Group provides for a whole-of-Government approach to the audiovisual industry with representatives from all Government Departments and State Agencies that have an involvement with the audiovisual industry.
As with every industry, the Irish film industry must observe employment law. In addition, everyone in the industry is entitled to a workplace which is dignified and free from bullying, harassment and intimidation of any kind. Screen Ireland is pro-active in this area and in recent years has provided a series of seminars on topics related to dignity in the workplace.
The Employment Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2018 was enacted in December. This legislation introduces important new protections for workers in sectors where employment terms are perceived to be becoming more precarious.
In July 2018, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht published a Report on the Development and Working Conditions in the Irish Film Industry. One of its recommendations is the organisation, by Screen Ireland, of a Film Forum, with an independent Chair, which would allow all stakeholders within the sector to meet and work together to develop mutually beneficial solutions for the industry. I have met with Screen Ireland on arrangements to hold an Forum that can focus on issues around employment and dignity at work.
Screen Ireland has been endeavouring to organise the Forum and had drawn up a list of all stakeholders to invite to the Forum. These include representatives of workers in the industry including:-
- The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)
- Irish Film Workers Association (IFWA)
- GMBh Trade Union
- Screen Guilds of Ireland
The emergence of disputes between stakeholders have, however, impeded progress on the Forum. I understand that following the transmission of an RTÉ Prime Time programme on the film industry, ICTU and SIPTU stated that they would not attend a Forum to which the IFWA is invited, and that the Screen Guilds of Ireland have given a similar response. Based on the ICTU position, Screen Producers Ireland also indicated that it would not attend.
Screen Ireland has now written to the Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee requesting a meeting and also requesting that the Chair meet with ICTU, SIPTU, Screen Producers Ireland and the Screen Guilds of Ireland.
Meanwhile my Department continues to work with the Audiovisual High Level Steering Group to address issues in the audiovisual industry, and to support the industry and to the people who work in it.