ACTRA members come to agreement

TORONTO — Canada’s actors and producers have in principle settled their differences, putting an almost certain end to an actors’ strike that has been plaguing the industry here since early January.

ACTRA, the union repping many Canadian thesps, and representatives of Canadian and Hollywood producers working in the Great White North have verbally agreed to end their bitter dispute and as of Friday afternoon were polishing off a new Independent Production Agreement.

The terms of the agreement were not immediately available. Jeff Brinton, spokesman of the Canadian Film & Television Production Assn., cautioned that some details still need to be ironed out and the deal is subject to ratification.

Canuck thesps and producers have since October been engaged in bitter conflict over the terms of their contract, with wages and the contentious and uncharted new media realm creating the largest rift.

The previous contract expired at the end of December, and in early January ACTRA called a strike in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The remainder of the provinces, except British Columbia, which is governed by a different collective agreement, were poised to walk out as well.

The strike has taken an unprecedented form, however. ACTRA has offered continuation letters in exchange for a 7% increase in wages and benefits, and more than a hundred producers — all ongoing productions, according to ACTRA, appear to have signed on.

So while there was no one to picket and no one off the job, industryites complained that business in Ontario in particular has slowed to a trickle due to the labor chill effect and the refusal of U.S. producers to commit to future work on those terms.

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