France's striking showbiz workers have threatened to disrupt next month's Cannes Film Festival to draw attention to their cause.

A group representing the workers, the 'intermittants du spectacle', released a statement on Thursday saying they intended to create an occupation committee for the Cannes Film Festival. They are protesting against government reforms put in place in January which increased the number of necessary work hours in order to access benefits.

The statement said 'the Cannes Festival can not carry on in a normal fashion' and noted that a press conference is being planned in Cannes on May 14, the third day of the event.

The striking workers are due to discuss their grievances with France's newly-installed culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres on April 19.

Cannes director of communications Marie-Pierre Hauville told that the festival 'hopes that everything will go in a positive direction,' at the meeting. But Hauville said the festival could make no comment on the likelihood of protests in Cannes between May 12 and 23 before the meeting.

The artists and technicians, who have been actively striking since last summer, have already disrupted several festivals and industry gatherings. They managed to infiltrate invitation-only premiere festivities for the third instalment of The Lord Of The Rings in December 2003 by hiding away in the Paris venue where the event was held.

The strike and the issues fuelling it are largely considered responsible for the ousting of former culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon who was replaced earlier this month.

Separately, Cannes organisers announced a seminar on antipiracy which will be held in the Palais on May 11, the day before the festival opens.