I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 229 together.
In July 2018, the Joint Oireachtas Committee published a Report on Development and Working Conditions in the Irish Film Industry. One of the Recommendations of the Report involved calls for the Irish Film Board - now Screen Ireland - to constitute its Film Forum with an independent Chair, in order to allow all stakeholders within the sector to meet and work together to develop mutually beneficial solutions for the industry. While Screen Ireland commenced efforts to constitute the forum in autumn last year, it was unable to do so. 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. There was also a concern that rather than providing a mechanism for a collaborative and inclusive approach to develop and exchange ideas to enhance the industry, the forum would instead amount to little more than the airing of disputes and grievances that had previously been raised before the Joint Committee. As the deputy is aware, disputes and grievances should be dealt with through the formal mechanisms of the State and the Government has a well-resourced labour inspectorate, which forms part of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) whose 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. In the meantime, efforts have continued to identified a way forward that might address concerns raised. I am now advised that following a joint request by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the Services, Industry, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), and Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), the WRC has agreed to undertake an audit of the Republic of Ireland Independent Film and Television Drama Production Sector with a view to:
- examining industrial relations generally, employment practices and procedure,
- assessing issues arising (if any), and
- making recommendations for their improvement where appropriate.
The WRC has published a Workplace Relations Notice on its website, inviting submissions from stakeholders on the above listed matters by 31 October 2019. The results of the audit should inform any further actions that might be taken on the matter of the film forum.