Canadian film and TVperformers guild ACTRA today applied for labour mediation following two days ofnegotiation toward a new independent production agreement with Canadianproducers.

According to ACTRA, veteranactor and lead bargaining team member Gordon Pinsent walked out on the talkswhen representatives from the Canadian Film and Television ProductionAssociation (CFTPA) and the Association des Producteurs de Films et deTelevision du Quebec (APFTQ) proposed a 10% to 25% fee reduction from thecurrent agreement.

The main issue at the talks,from ACTRA's stance, is the disparity between the wages paid to Canadianperformers and those paid to US performers working on the same productions.ACTRA president Steven Waddell told Screendaily, "On the basis of minimum fees,it's a 30% difference." Also on the ACTRA agenda are working conditions andresiduals. Producers, says Waddell, want ACTRA to reduce the minimum restperiod between shooting days to 10 hours from 11 hours and to extend theprepayment period for residuals from the current four years to cover sevenyears - "without additional compensation".

A CFTPA spokesperson was notavailable for comment at time of publication. However, in a statement issuedtoday regarding ACTRA's move, John Barrack, chief negotiator for the CFTPA saidthe two producers representatives "have put considerable effort into developinga forward thinking model which is aimed at adapting our labour relationsenvironment to deal with today's production realities... The explosion offact-based, lifestyle and reality programming coupled with the emerging newplatforms, make it necessary to rethink how we do business. We are disappointedthat ACTRA is refusing to engage us at the bargaining table. I certainly don'twant to see this resolved through the media."

The producersrepresentatives suggested that some of the proposals put forward over the pasttwo days may have been misinterpreted, "particularly in the areas of discountsfor lower budget productions and new media production."

ACTRA was joined at thebargaining table by representatives of the giant United SteelworkersInternational union, with which it has a strategic alliance. ACTRA represents21,000 members across the country.