Canada's film and televisionperformers edged closer to a strike position as their representative ACTRAannounced it will begin mailing strike ballots to members.

The move follows the latestround of negotiations between the performers union and the production communityrepresented by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA)and the Association de Producteurs de Film et de Television du Quebec (APFTQ).The two parties have agreed to conduct a final round of negotiations with agovernment-appointed mediator before the December 31, 2006 expiration of thecurrent independent production agreement. ACTRA said it would know whether ithas the mandate to strike on or about December 15.

For its part, theCFTPA/APFTQ have offered to remove or amend three of the four proposals towhich ACTRA has objected: work turnarounds, new media productions amendment anda discounted rate to stimulate productions in the $4m-$12m budget rate.

The remaining issue isresiduals: ACTRA wants the buy-out time reduced to three years from four; theproducers want it extended to seven years. In a response to the producerslatest proposal, ACTRA president Stephen Waddell said, "Producers are still seeking to gut performers' residuals, rollback theirpay, worsen working conditions, and implement numerous other retrogradeproposals."

Speaking to Screendaily,John Barrack, the chief negotiator the CFTPA, said producers are under pressureto deliver programming at a lower cost and that performers would have to acceptthe new paradigm.

"It's a hard message. Mymembers have a different reality than we had seven years ago. You either acceptand get on with it or it passes you buy. The best agreement is useless if thereis no work. And the fear mongering is driving work out of the country."

Barrack said a strike is astrong possibility.

The next round ofnegotiations begins November 28 in Montreal.