Canadian actors agree to more talks

ACTRA, producers claim bargaining has turned a corner

There is a slight softening of the rhetoric as Canada’s actors prepare for another round of negotiations with producers Wednesday . Whether they will be able to hammer out an agreement and avert a strike before the end-of-the-year deadline remains to be seen.

After two days of meetings between the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) — the union representing Canadian actors — and the English and French associations representing producers held last week, both declared that their bargaining has turned a corner.

ACTRA is no longer demanding that the producers remove their proposals before entering bargaining, and the producers have accepted several of ACTRA’s proposals, “creating a balanced and productive bargaining in good faith atmosphere,” said the Canadian Film & Television Production Assn.

“We agreed to a roadmap on how to address the numerous issues on the table,” said ACTRA chief negotiator Steve Waddell.

“I’m very pleased with the relative progress coming out of Montreal,” said Guy Mayson, prexy and CEO of the CFTPA.

The two sides are still “miles apart” on issues such as wages, benefits and residuals, but the tone represents a marked improvement over the vitriol after talks broke off in October just two days in, with both sides accusing the other of destabilizing the industry and girding for a strike.

The clock is ticking, however. While the two are skedded to resume meeting again on Wednesday, their plans may be delayed by regulatory hearings being held the same week at which both are also skedded to be present. Potential delays at the CRTC hearings could scuttle their schedule.

The current Independent Production Agreement expires Dec. 31. ACTRA has put a strike mandate ballot in the mail to its members and will announce the results the middle of December.