Unifor Local 2000 conducted an anonymous online survey for people working in VFX, animation and game development. We asked questions on age, job description, top workplace problems and possible solutions, including unionization. Thank you to all who participated! Based on the overwhelming response, it’s clear you’re all facing similar issues that require creative, collective solutions. We’ve been meeting with people, talking about how unions and a collective agreement can bring lasting, positive changes to the workplace. These are exciting times for Vancouver’s tech workers and for us as a union. Unifor has the background and experience to turn workers’ ideas into reality. For those who haven’t taken our survey, it’s not too late to make your voice heard. The survey was not scientific, and the respondents were self-selecting, as it was entirely voluntary.
The overwhelming majority of respondents (61 per cent) worked in visual effects, 39 per cent worked in animation, and only eight per cent in game development. (People could choose more than one answer.)
Fifty-six per cent of the respondents were in the 30 to 39 age range. Thirty-seven per cent were in their 20s, and only six per cent were 40 or older.
We asked a multiple-choice question about the top problems in the workplace, and job instability came first at 58 per cent, with poor management close behind at 57 per cent. Long hours/unpaid overtime ranked third, with 44 per cent.
(Note: Because respondents can chose more than one response, the results add up to more than 100 per cent.)
I really like the people where I work. I just feel that they’re not paying us nearly enough as to what they should be, especially with overtime and benefits. – survey respondent
Survey respondents could also add their own comments about workplace problems, and the top three emerging themes were low pay, long hours and problems with management. A couple of respondents noted that long hours and unpaid overtime were two separate issues, and while they weren’t happy with the long hours, they were at least paid overtime. Lack of sick days, no benefits and uncertainty around the next contract were also cited as cause for concern. It wasn’t all bad; two people reported positive experiences in the workplace.
Respondents were asked to describe one thing they would like to change about their job, and we sorted responses into theme-based categories. Management issues came out on top. People cited various problems, such as unrealistic scheduling, “surprise” overtime, lack of communication, and poor planning. Work-life balance issues were closely behind. People complained of long hours, short, unrealistic deadlines and a culture of expected overtime. Issues related to job stability/certainty were the third highest-ranking concerns, followed by overtime pay and salaries.
We asked people for solutions that would help their industry. Better management was the top theme, especially around scheduling realistic deadlines, and better coordination, planning and communication. Improved pay or transparency around wages tied for the second most common theme alongside client-related problems. Some called for studios to push back against unrealistic client demands and the fixed bid process, where studios undercut each other at the workers’ expense. A few raised women’s issues: mainly child care and sexual harassment, while others bemoaned the lack of sick days.
We also asked respondents to share their feelings about unions. The overwhelming majority (55.67 per cent) were interested but unsure what it would mean, while 19.59 per cent were all for it and ready to sign up, and 8.25 per cent were terrified their employer would find out. A couple of people expressed concerns that work may move overseas should their industry unionize in Vancouver.
I don’t know of any 2D TV studio in town paying overtime. They give unmanageable quotas and tell staff it’s their own fault for not completing the work on time. It’s a problem. – survey respondent.
Many left email addresses to get involved in our group to talk about industry solutions and unionization. If you’re interested in joining our group, email [email protected].