ACTRA, CFTPA go back to table

One last try for Canada actors, producers to make deal

Canada's actors union and North American producers will return to the bargaining table Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to forge a new labor deal and avert a planned industry shutdown Monday.

On Friday, representatives for ACTRA, which represents 21,000 domestic performers, met informally with negotiators representing American producers, the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. and Quebec producers with the Association de producteurs de films et de television du Quebec, agreeing to return to the bargaining table Wednesday.

ACTRA also agreed to delay plans for industrial action to back its demands. The current Independent Production Agreement expired Sunday, and the performers union is now in a legal position to strike in much of the country.

But Stephen Waddell, ACTRA's chief negotiator, said the actors union agreed to return to the table after receiving assurances from the producers that an increased-wage proposal was possible.

"(It is) only on the basis that there had been some off-the-record discussions and that it appears the CFTPA is willing to … put more money on the table, that we are agreeing to postpone the declaration of the strike," he said Friday.

Waddell added that ACTRA will serve 72-hour strike notice Wednesday and will carry through on its threat Monday at midnight should no agreement on a new IPA be reached in time.

John Barrack, the CFTPA's chief negotiator, offered no details on the producers' latest bargaining strategy, but welcomed ACTRA's assurance that it will only strike if next week's crunch talks broke down.

The most recent round of talks between ACTRA and the producers stalled after the performers rejected a proposed wage increase of 4% over three years, subject to certain deferrals. ACTRA is demanding a 15% wage increase over three years and new-media residuals, among other demands.