Oz actors, producers’ talks stumble

Union says offshore commercials at risk

SYDNEY — Talks between Oz thesps and the Screen Producers’ Association of Australia have broken down with thesp union Actors’ Equity saying actors will refuse to work on offshore commercials from Friday if SPAA doesn’t re-instate an agreement governing their employment.

Equity is particularly concerned that SPAA is refusing to guarantee pay scales.

In June, SPAA told Equity it was terminating the existing Offshore Commercials Agreement, effective Aug. 7, leading Equity to threaten a strike.

Since then the parties have met but Equity says SPAA is offering too little.

“SPAA is only willing to re-negotiate some conditions, meaning the rest — including all clauses relating to how much a performer should expect to be paid — would be scrapped,” said the actors’ union boss Simon Whipp.

Television commercials produced by companies outside of the Australian networks are worth about A$200 million ($164 million) and comprise 10% of the production industry. Many of these ads are for offshore markets.

“When working on offshore commercials (Equity members) want to be protected as they are in film, television, theater, dance and other areas of advertising production. An agreement that leaves out major clauses like fees, would not be fair for performers,” Whipp said.