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Oz thesps, employers still squabbling

Strike to go on unless agreement reached

SYDNEY– The chances of averting a planned one-day strike by Australian actors appeared slim Thursday although both sides in the dispute were due to meet at 12 noon local time in the Industrial Relations Commission

The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia repping the employers, said it would accept the commission’s rulings — but only if the actors called off the stoppage, which is expected to be held next Tuesday or Wednesday.

However Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Equity division director Simon Whipp told Daily Variety: “We’re happy to talk (with SPAA) but we won’t call off the strike unless we reach agreement.”

Whipp said he is meeting with execs at the Seven Network and with indie producers later today in the hope of concluding individual agreements.

The union is seeking higher residuals and pay for guest stars, and an improvement in the contract options which bind actors to further episodes.

SPAA exec director Geoff Brown said the strike would seriously disrupt production schedules of TV series and serials; Oz films won’t be affected in the short term as none is shooting. The commission hearing was expected to be preliminary, with a date to be set for negotiations.

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