SPAA claims Equity dragged its feet in talks
The Screen Producers’ Assn. of Australia has hit back at Actors’ Equity, whose members went on strike Thursday after the two orgs failed to reach a new employment agreement governing work on commercials made to screen outside the country.The spat began after SPAA nixed the existing agreement in June, effective Aug. 7. Equity claimed the decision was sudden, but SPAA said it arose after two years of failed arbitration. The producers’ org also said foreign commercials producers are opting to shoot in nearby New Zealand because employment agreements there are comparatively uncomplicated, meaning Aussies are missing out on the work. “The international market finds our agreement confusing and inflexible in a variety of ways, including formulaic terms for buyouts and numbers of edits of a commercial,” SPAA topper Geoff Brown said. “This makes it much more difficult to employ actors in Australia than our competitor countries such as New Zealand, South Africa or Canada. Our producers will still be offering very good fees to actors and SPAA will be providing producers with a guide to underlying conditions,” he said. Equity rep Simon Burke said, “Actors do not want to be on strike, but SPAA’s refusal to negotiate a fair agreement has left us with no choice.” Television commercials produced by companies outside of the Australian networks are worth about A$200 million ($164 million) a year and comprise 10% of the annual production industry.