With contract negotiations stalled and the Directors Guild of Canada BC threatening to go on strike in British Columbia in the next 48 hours, the organizations representing producers there now appear resigned to the inevitability of a work stoppage in the province. On Tuesday, the DGC BC issued a 72-hour strike notice, the next and possibly final step before it launches a strike.
In a joint statement, the AMPTP and the Canadian Media Producers Association said Wednesday: “Following more than a year of good-faith negotiations by producers, we are disappointed that the DGC BC chose to issue a strike notice and that discussions to reach an agreement have stalled. Our last proposal to the DGC BC was a fair offer that included substantial improvements for employees working under the Collective Agreement. After meeting with the DGC BC again on April 25, it is clear that significant differences remain. A path that leads both parties to a deal remains a priority, but the DGC’s choice may impede a resolution in the near future.”
A strike, if it comes to that, would be the first in the guild’s history, though most films and TV shows currently shooting in British Columbia would not be affected because they are protected by what’s known as “safe harbor” agreements.
In 2008 the BC Labor Board imposed safe harbor agreements upon the industry to provide for labor stability during collective bargaining, and most productions currently shooting in BC have signed safe harbor agreements. Any production that has signed and complies with the terms of a safe harbor agreement is protected from a labor action.
A strike would not stop filming elsewhere in Canada either. In Toronto, which is also a major filming destination, directors and their crews are represented by a different DGC district council, which has its own separate contracts and is not threatening a work stoppage.
Earlier this month, the guild’s members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if the two sides were unable to reach a fair deal.
On Tuesday, Allan Harmon, District Council Chairman of DGC BC, said: “In light of the overwhelming support for a strike mandate, we had expected (the companies) to address the issues that are vitally important to our members. They did not. Their refusal to address these issues has left us with no other choice but to issue a strike notice.”
According to the guild, the key issues that remain outstanding are:
• Minimum wage differentials: as minimum wage increases, so should all wage rates of lower-paid positions.
• Payment terms for Covid testing.
• Retroactivity of wage increases to the expiry of the last collective agreement.
• The Negotiating Producers’ demands for further concessions
These issues, the guild said, “primarily impact the lowest paid and most vulnerable positions.”
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