TORONTO - The union representing Canadian performers has set a strike deadline of midnight Monday amid last-ditch talks with producers to settle a dispute over wages.

"Canadian performers will not see their wages eroded and will not be giving away their work on the Internet for free,'' Stephen Waddell, ACTRA's national executive director and chief negotiator, said in a release Wednesday.

"ACTRA wants to avoid a strike. We're going to try hard this week to negotiate a new agreement. But the producers' associations must not underestimate our determination to ensure that it is a fair agreement.''

The union received an overwhelming 97.6 per cent strike mandate from its membership in December.

If no agreement is reached this week, ACTRA will be striking against producers in most of Canada except British Columbia. Producers who have signed continuation letters with ACTRA -- the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists -- will be spared a strike.

The union represents 21,000 performers across Canada.