Without deal, ACTRA strike set for Jan. 1

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TORONTO -- Canadian actors have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if a new labor deal with North American producers is not reached by month's end.

ACTRA members Friday voted 97.6% in favor of a strike if current talks fail to produce a new Independent Production Agreement governing pay rates and workplace conditions on Canadian film and TV shoots.

The results of the strike vote gives ACTRA's negotiating committee greater leverage as the final round of IPA talks begin this week with American producers, the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. and Quebec producers with the Association de producteurs de films et de television du Quebec.

ACTRA has received strong mandates for industrial action during previous IPA bargaining rounds, but its membership has never gone on strike.

Union officials indicated Friday that a conciliation officer appointed by the Ontario Labour Board will file papers shortly, allowing the actors union to put itself in a legal strike position Jan. 1, one day after the current IPA agreement expires.

The union's strike mandate came as more progress apparently was made during three days of talks in Toronto.

While neither side provided details on last week's discussions, both sides insisted progress had been made on "nonmonetary" issues.

The actors and producers plan to meet again this week to discuss key monetary issues, including wages and new-media residuals.

"I'm really pleased with this week," CFTPA chief negotiator John Barrack said, before adding that he still assumed an industry shutdown next month was likely.

"There's some fundamental issues that haven't been dealt with in 10 years. It's big stuff," Barrack said.

Stephen Waddell, chief negotiator for ACTRA, said this week will reveal whether "relatively productive negotiating" and the specter of industrial action will force concessions from the producers.

"Hopefully producers will not underestimate our determination to secure a fair and reasonable agreement," he said.

Negotiators for ACTRA and the producers were set to hold unscheduled sidebar discussions Sunday before formal bargaining resumes today.
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