Union representing Canada's actors reaches deal
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, February 16, 2007 11:06PM EST
The union representing Canada's artists and performers has reached a tentative deal with the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, after a six-week long strike.
"Canadian actors are big winners in the deal we reached today," Stephen Waddell, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), said in a press release Friday.
ACTRA represents 21,000 actors. They had demanded compensation for work released on the Internet and a pay increase to match American performers.
The tentative agreement -- which has to be ratified - gives performers a 10 per cent wage increase over the next three years, along with residuals for Internet use.
Performers argued they should get royalties when movies and television shows appear on new media like the Internet, cell phones and video MP3 players.
Producers had argued such use was for promotional material only.
ACTRA also said there is a 32 per cent wage gap between its members and their U.S. counterparts in the Screen Actors Guild.
To help close the gap, ACTRA had demanded a five per cent wage hike in each year of a three-year contract. It claims the average annual salary for Canadian actors is just $15,000.
ACTRA began its strike on Jan. 8. It was the first strike in the history of the union, and CFTPA called the action illegal.
The union has numerous functions including determining "scale", the minimum wage set for ACTRA performers; helping actors collect royalties, residuals and other forms of compensation; and advocating the development of a strong domestic film and TV industry.
About 60 per cent of its membership is in Toronto.
Paul Bronfman, president and CEO of Comweb Group, said the strike has cost the city at least two feature movies and up to $400 million in lost production.
"I was recently in Los Angeles meeting with the various heads of production of the majors and the independents (studios), and basically they're telling me that until you guys get your acts together in terms of your labour strife, we're not booking Canada for anything," Bronfman told The Canadian Press.
"And by the way, the competition from New Mexico, Louisiana, New York state, Pennsylvania, et cetera, in terms of the incentives that those states are offering -- Canada is becoming much less competitive than it used to be."
Bronfman, whose company is a leading supplier of film services and equipment in Canada, said it could take weeks for the industry to recover from the dispute.
"The fact that it went on for six weeks is ridiculous, and now the challenge is to undo the very serious damage that's been done," he said.
"It's going to take several weeks, if not months, to get things back on track. Production is not going to start flowing back here immediately."