BIEN raises red flag for the sorry state of the PH animation workers

The BPO Industry Employees Network expressed concern over the dismal state of PH animation workers who endure long hours of work, low pay, and precarious employment while servicing multi-billion dollar worth animation studios.

“How could we take pride in Filipino animators, extolled for being behind of well-loved cartoons and critically-acclaimed animated films, if their names are not even seen on closing credits? How could we take pride on their skills and talent if they meagerly earn as low as P10,000 a month?” Mylene Cabalona, BIEN National President said.

Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. describes Philippine animation services include full 2D and 3D animation, including pre and post production services such as lay-outing, in-betweening, clean-up, digital background through scanning and pre-composting, color styling, special effects creation, and digital ink and paint application.

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“While big animation studios outsourced creative works to countries like the Philippines to cut cost, they rake billions of dollars in profit.” Cabalona said.

An interview with animators and founding members of the Philippine Animation Workers Association, PAWA, a newly-formed workers association in the PH animation industry, revealed that rates across animation studios can be as low as P180 per second of animation depending on an animator’s level of experience and part of the production chain. A typical animator is could work on 30 to 40 seconds of animation per week.

Similar to workers in other subsectors of the business process outsourcing, animators experience highly flexible work arrangements with no social insurance and no job security. Most animators are employed as freelance, project-based or in-house. But even “in-house” animators are employed in a no-work no-pay scheme and very few animation studios hire regular employees who are paid a basic monthly salary of as low as P10,000 a month.

As animation studios scramble to deliver their outputs to their clients, animators reported enduring very long hours of work and forced overtime especially when a project is due. In one studio, animators could not go home for three days to order to finish a project. The same studio was reported to have locked animators inside the studio premises to make sure that nobody leaves until the work is done.

“It is lamentable that despite their skills and talents, not to mention the high cost of education that animators have to pay to learn their skills, Filipino animators are hardly treated humanely, let alone like ‘creatives’. Instead, they are exposed to sweatshop-like working conditions,” Cabalona averred.

The group added that the lack of public policy and labor standard to support and guide the Philippine animation workers is taken advantage of by animation studios and giant international studios as clients.

Recently, round-table discussion which aim to discuss industry practices and plight of workers in the Philippine animation industry was self-organized by a group of animators and assisted by labor group Defend Job Philippines. The initiative led to the formation of Philippine Animation Workers Association (PAWA).

“BIEN commends and supports PAWA in their endeavor to advance the rights of Philippine animation workers for living wages and secured jobs. Organizing or building collective voice of workres is the key. Let us continue to build workers solidarity, strengthen workers organization and unions, and together we fight back against neoliberal attacks on labor.” Cabalona ended. ###

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