Feeling the fierce force of the capitalist market, many countries, if not all, have taken measures to attack several of its corrosive side effects such as monopolies, tax evasions and the worst of all: poor working conditions (Robinson. William L 2004). But what happens when an industry takes place in several countries and due to its nomadic qualities no governmental organism can control it? FIFA could be one of those examples but if we look around there are many others that lack general awareness.
The Visual Effects industry started many decades ago in California when the movies requiring those effects were the exception and not the norm. The film industry due to its tradition has strong unions in the US and those rights cover every sector of it. However, when the Visual Effects industry started growing, several companies took advantage of the huge tax breaks by the UK government and made of London at the turn of the century the biggest hub in the planet for Visual Effects. But such a new industry was not regulated in Britain and their practices included an unpaid overtime driven by a legion of workers anxious of being part of the film industry (Stage Screen and Radio 2013).
Nowadays, when the workers have started to organize the industry is shifting elsewhere, where the tax breaks are even bigger (Canada) and outsourcing some of the tasks to places with no guarantees for employees (India) (Williams, Owen 2014). Every new country in the equation feels the privilege and the glamour of the industry, hence it compromises working conditions and legal issues.
In London, many workers have been warned that if they want to keep their jobs in the industry they should be able to relocate to Canada or New Zealand, leaving little space to stability and a safe family life. Even during peak times in the in London or Vancouver, working was almost a trip back to nineteenth century with several weeks in a row without days off, unpaid weekends, low wages, late nights and so on, depending on the facility they have landed (Williams, Owen 2014). Even studios like Prime Focus whose operations are global, they incur in slavery-like practices because they are registered in India and while they respect the laws in the UK, USA and Canada, their ability to exploit workers in Indian soil goes to the limit (VFX Soldier 2014).
The big issue here is that wherever conditions gets tough for those big companies, they just avoid it and move elsewhere with complete immunity because they answer to the governments they get a better treatment from. Like the VFX industry, many lesser known industries have started to take advantage of the rules or lack of rules within the global village, a place big enough to run and hide in broad daylight.
Stage Screen and Radio (2013) Life on the edge. Available at: https://www.bectu.org.uk/advice-resources/library/1405 Accessed: 7 November 2014
Robinson. William L (2004) The Transnational State’ A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class and State in a Transnational World. JHU Press.
VFX Soldier. (2014) Prime Focus Exploiting Indian Workers? Available at: http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/prime-focus-exploiting-indian-workers/ accessed 7 November 2014
Williams, Owen. (2014) Hollywood’s VFX Crisis-Update. Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/interviews/interview.asp?IID=1650. Accessed 7 November 2014