Canuck strike talks heating up

Labor issues continue to grow in Great White North

The likelihood of a labor disruption is increasing as talks between Canadian actors and producers devolve into a game of he says-she says and the clock counts down the days until the Independent Production Agreement expires Dec. 31.

Producers represented by the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. and the Assn. de Producteurs de Films et de Television du Quebec urged thesp union ACTRA to return to the bargaining table and accused it of refusing to negotiate before requesting mediation.

Talks broke down last week after just two days, and ACTRA requested provincial mediation in Ontario.

“Conciliation is a step that is only undertaken once reasonable efforts have been made by both parties to negotiate,” said John Barrack, chief negotiator for the CFTPA. “At this point, we’ve not had a chance to start bargaining. ACTRA’s insistence that we withdraw our proposals could be considered bad-faith bargaining.”

He warned that ACTRA has said it intends to file conciliation notices in all provinces covered by the IPA, “which is the legal step required before going on strike.”

ACTRA accuses the producers of fear mongering.

Union negotiator Steve Waddell said producers “continue to play games about their willingness and availability to meet with a conciliation officer. Their bizarre statements about ACTRA wanting to go on strike and their attempts to block conciliation are creating instability in the industry.”

Producers want the union to sign a safe-harbor contract grandfathering ongoing productions in the event of a labor disruption, which ACTRA has said it will accept only if wages are upped by 5% and benefits by 2% on the productions in question.

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