Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Meanwhile, up in the chilly North:

A media workers' union has filed an employment standards complaint against the Vancouver animation studio behind Seth Rogen's latest film, Sausage Party.

The complaint was filed by Unifor Local 2000 on behalf of the non-unionized animators who worked on the film.

It alleges that Nitrogen Studios — which produced the animation for the film — did not pay them for overtime hours spent working on the film.

Jennifer Moreau, vice-president of Unifor Local 2000, said such working conditions are extremely common in the booming Vancouver animation, visual effects (VFX) and video game industries.

"Vancouver has almost become like a sweatshop for these animation companies," Moreau said. "They're shipping all the work up here, because we get the tax credits, but the workers are paying the price." ...

There is always an impulse by companies to reduce costs and maximize profits. It's what companies are chartered to do, after all, within legal limits.

Sometimes corporations do it in smart ways, other times in less-smart ways. Any production-savvy veteran will tell you that when people work seven-day weeks and 12 to 14 hour days, their productivity falls off a metaphorical cliff. I've walked through studios where artists have work fourteen or sixteen days straight, and it's like looking at a mid-season episode of "The Walking Dead". Lots of blank eyes. Lots of slack faces. And there's not a lot of work going on because everyone's frontal lobes shut down day before yesterday.

Overtime pay is designed to discourage companies from overworking employees by making thos additional worked hours costly. Overtime is not simply a clause in a contract or law on a book to enrich employees and impoverish employers. It's designed to give companies incentives to find better, more efficient ways to create a product.

That's why B.C.'s carve-out of o.t. for "technology workers" is short-sighted. It demoralizes workers even as it lowers productivity.


Jameson Ballard said...

I like your last statement. Smart companies know that people are not commodity. People are people. They tire like everyone else and production slows if overworked. A smart company would find out how long it takes before production become sloppy and try to make sure everyone is happy so they don't complain about working conditions. In business logic that should make sense, but it seems to be often ignored.

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