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Producers actions forcing strike?

TORONTO, Nov. 3 /CNW/ – ACTRA believes that the producers’ association is intent on causing a strike in the film and television industry.

"Based on their huge demands for concessions, their delay in coming to bargaining, their attempts to block the appointment of a Conciliator and their filing of inaccurate and time wasting applications with the Labour Board it would appear they really are not interested in getting an agreement with us before the contract expires," stated ACTRA Chief Negotiator Stephen Waddell.

The CFTPA/APFTQ has demanded that Canadian performers take pay cuts of up to 25% on virtually 80% of Canadian productions. They have also put forward demands that would eliminate most residual payments to performers for future broadcasts of their work and for work on the internet.

The film and television agreement (IPA) expires on December 31, 2006. ACTRA requested that talks start last March but the CFTPA/APFTQ refused to provide any dates until October and provided only eight potential dates before the end of the agreement.

"Their behaviour is bizarre," said Waddell. "We have offered to meet with them with a Conciliator to see if we could find some common ground. Yet, they have filed a complaint with the Labour Board that we are refusing to meet."

ACTRA has also offered the CFTPA/APFTQ a letter of continuation which would allow producers currently involved in projects to continue past the expiry date of the agreement. The CFTPA/APFTQ has told its members to refuse to sign and has not attempted to negotiate with ACTRA on the letter.

"Every move the CFTPA makes seems designed to create conflict and instability. Their behaviour is inexplicable and incoherent. One can only assume that they want to force a strike," commented Waddell.

CFTPA urge ACTRA to negotiate

TORONTO, Nov. 2 /CNW Telbec/ – A week after negotiations with ACTRA stalled, the CFTPA and the APFTQ are urging ACTRA to return to the bargaining table in order to continue discussions. ACTRA has refused to consider the Producers’ proposals and has asked the Associations to withdraw their proposals without any substantive discussion.

Instead of engaging in a meaningful dialogue regarding the proposals, ACTRA filed a conciliation notice in the province of Ontario which forces the appointment of a government mediator. ACTRA has also indicated that they intend to file conciliation notices in all other provinces covered by the IPA,which is the legal step required before going on strike.

"Considering the legal context in Quebec where the Status of the Artist Act applies, and considering ACTRA’s refusal to negotiate without a mediator, the APFTQ has had no choice but to ask the Commission de reconnaissance des associations d’artistes et des associations de producteurs to appoint a mediator for our province" explained Julie Patry, Attorney, Director, Industrial Relations, APFTQ.

ACTRA’s actions are highly unusual and could force the ACTRA Independent Production Agreement (IPA) – a collective agreement which covers Performers in all provinces outside of British Columbia – to be negotiated on a province-by-province basis. Although there could be some advantage to provincial bargaining for Producers, it is not the first choice of the Associations and can only be viewed as a divisive strategy that will create major production uncertainty across the country. 

"Conciliation is a step that is only undertaken once reasonable efforts have been made by both parties to negotiate towards an agreement. At this point in time, we’ve not had a chance to start bargaining. ACTRA’s insistence that we withdraw our proposals could be considered bad faith bargaining" said John Barrack, chief negotiator for the CFTPA, who added "if ACTRA maintains its demand that the Producers’ Associations withdraw their proposals without engaging in a discussion, conciliation will be meaningless regardless of where it takes place".

The CFTPA and APFTQ are also concerned that ACTRA’s rejection of the Associations’ Safe Harbour agreement which will damage domestic producers and discourage foreign productions from coming to Canada.

The Producers’ Associations are committed to labour stability and will continue to encourage ACTRA to return to the bargaining table. However, the Associations emphasize that ACTRA also has to be willing to view its own proposals in the context of a production environment that has changed dramatically over the last few years.

"Increasing global competition along with changes in audience viewing habits are forcing everybody to re-examine how we do business and this has to involve the guilds and unions who are our partners" said Guy Mayson, President & CEO, CFTPA.

The CFTPA and the APFTQ are actively urging ACTRA to have a real discussion regarding production realities and will continue taking the steps necessary to ensure a competitive and stable production environment.

ACTRA negotiations to mediation

TORONTO, Oct. 24 /CNW/ – Canadian producers told revered Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent and all Canadian performers that they deserve a 25% pay cut, no residuals and worse working conditions. So Pinsent, at the front table of ACTRA’s bargaining team, walked out of the talks on Monday.

Today, his colleagues at ACTRA applied for labour mediation. Two days of negotiations with Canadian producers highlighted the need for a neutral third party to assist the talks.
"We put forward a reasonable set of proposals in these negotiations," said Richard Hardacre, National President of ACTRA. "What we got back from producers was proposals to roll back our pay by 10 to 25%, a proposal to gut our residuals, proposals to make working conditions much worse and numerous other unacceptable proposals."

The parties are so far apart, ACTRA concluded the negotiations are going to need help to get to a new agreement. The current agreement expires on December 31, 2006.

United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard joined ACTRA at the table for the negotiations on Tuesday. He underlined for producers that the million-member Steelworkers union stands by its strategic alliance with ACTRA and will use all of its resources to work with ACTRA to ensure these discussions lead to a fair agreement.

Canadian TV drama crisis

Toronto – ACTRA welcomes the chance to address the crisis in Canadian television drama with the CRTC’s review of its regulatory framework for over-the-air television. ACTRA’s submission calls for regulations to guarantee a minimum level of Canadian drama on our public airwaves.

"Though late in coming, it is at this time possible for the CRTC to stop the freefall of Canadian drama on television," said Richard Hardacre, ACTRA’s National President. "We have continually called for a review and a regulatory shift since 2000. We call on the CRTC to require that private broadcasters invest in Canadian drama, Canadian jobs and Canadian culture."

This fall’s CRTC review is one of the most important investigations into Canadian TV drama since the 1999 Television Policy came into force. That policy eliminated expenditure requirements for Canadian private broadcasters and expanded the definition of priority programming to include cheaper fare, such as variety shows and entertainment magazine programs. Since the changes, Canadian private broadcaster’s spending on American programming has risen from 27% of revenue to an all-time high of 35%, while spending on Canadian drama has dropped to 3.2% of ad revenue, the lowest percentage in eight years, according to CRTC’s own reports.

"We are not alone in our view that Canadian drama is critically important to the future of Canadian television. Drama is the most popular genre of TV programming and Canadian dramatic programming is central to our cultural sovereignty," added Hardacre.

ACTRA is making a written submission to the CRTC, as well as contributing to the Coalition of Canadian Audio-visual Union’s (CCAU)submission. These submissions identify key policy objectives to solve the crisis in English-Canadian television drama. In addition, ACTRA has asked to make an appearance at the CRTC’s public hearings.

BELL GLOBEMEDIA’S BUYOUT OF CHUM ALARMING

Toronto – Canadian performers are alarmed by reports that Bell Globemedia is buying CHUM Ltd. The proposed acquisition will have major ramifications on the Canadian media landscape, leaving essentially two major media conglomerates and private broadcasters,

Bell Globemedia and CanWest Global. Bell Globemedia’s holdings already include CTV, The Globe and Mail and 17 specialty channels.

“We’re seriously concerned about the impact this excessive media concentration will have on diversity, competition and choice,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director. "Canadians’ viewing choices are already limited by the swath of duplicated U.S. product carried by private TV broadcasters. This merger will leave us with even fewer voices and less options for seeing our own distinctive stories."

ACTRA also warns that the proposed acquisition could have a devastating impact on communities across the country that have both CHUM and CTV-owned stations. Job losses could be major, and local news and production will be severely compromised.

“We expect the CRTC to carefully examine this proposed acquisition. We can’t imagine how this increase in media concentration could possibly be in the best interest of Canadians or further the principles of The Broadcasting Act,” said Waddell.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has to act on this issue and stop this growing media monopoly. Canadian culture, diversity and openness in our media are being trampled on as power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands,” he added.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is a national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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