Labor talks in Canada yield little

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TORONTO -- Canadian actors and producers made little apparent progress to avert a possible strike or lockout early in the new year after both sides resumed labor talks in Toronto on Tuesday.

Talks on a new indie production agreement between ACTRA, which represents 21,000 domestic performers, and American producers, the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. and Quebec producers affiliated with the Association de producteurs de films et de television du Quebec (APFTQ), ended late Tuesday evening with little traction on key issues, according to sources close to the talks.

The discussions began earlier in the day with the Canadian producers submitting in writing possible concessions on wage rollbacks and other key sticking points for the actors, before ACTRA negotiators stepped away to consider the producers' revised demands.

The talks apparently broke off with the actors still demanding that the producers take their original proposals off of the table, before considering whether they would return to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The current Independent Production Agreement, which governs pay rates and workplace conditions for Canadian actors, expires Dec. 31.

Negotiations to renew the IPA deal began Oct. 23, but soon collapsed after the producers urged domestic actors to agree to deep pay cuts and other rollbacks to reach a new labor deal.

ACTRA negotiators initially called for mediation to close a wide gap in proposals and for the producers to remove their original demands from the table before the actors would return.

But after the producers late last week signaled that they were ready to make concessions, the actors agreed to hear the new proposals without a government-appointed mediator in the room.

Tuesday's talks were considered crucial to determining whether there was enough common ground between the Canadian actors and producers to avoid a strike or lockout early in the new year.
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