France’s Key Entertainment Union CGT-Spectacle Set To Endorse Cannes Strike

France’s Key Entertainment Union CGT-Spectacle Set To Endorse Cannes Strike

EXCLUSIVE: France’s main union for people employed in the entertainment and culture sectors – CGT-Spectacle – is poised to give its official support for planned strike action by festival workers during the upcoming edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

Festival workers attached to the Cannes Film Festival, its parallel sections of Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week and a number of other French film festivals announced earlier this week that they had voted to take strike action during Cannes’ 81st edition (May 14 to 25) due to unheeded demands on pay and their employment status.

“The CGT-Spectacle supports the demands and the strike movement… and we are also in close contact with these employees,” a spokesperson told Deadline, adding that a statement officially confirming the union’s support would likely be published in the coming days.

The collective representing the festival workers also plans to stage several public protests during the two-week event and this week launched an online petition in support of their campaign, which has been circulated widely across social media sites by French industry figures. The petition is private, so it’s currently not possible to see how many people have signed.

The official support of the CGT-Spectacle union would be a coup for the festival workers, who have yet to reveal what form their strike action will take.

The umbrella union encompasses nine different guilds representing professionals working across entertainment and culture sectors, including the performing arts, music and fine art.

It also traditionally has a seat on the administrative board of the Cannes Film Festival. The CGT-Spectacle spokesperson said the fact the union had a member on the Cannes board would not influence its stance towards the festival workers’ campaign.

Earlier this week, CGT-Spectacle member Le SPIAC-CGT, representing the interests of audiovisual and cinema production staff, became the first union to signal its official support for the festival workers.

The French director’s guild La SRF (La Société des Réalisatrices et Réalisateurs), which organizes Directors’ Fortnight, and is also a member of GCT-Spectacle has yet to make a public statement on its stance.

Uniting under the banner of the Precarious Film Festival Workers Collective (Le Collectif des précaires des festivals de cinéma), the festival workers’ demands are two-fold.

Firstly, they are asking for better pay packages that acknowledge the long hours they work when events are in full throttle.

Secondly, they want to be officially classed as temporary entertainment workers, known as intermittents du spectacle. This status would enable them to access France’s special benefits regime for people working in the entertainment sector, which is tailored to the fact they are often employed on temporary contracts and provides year-round income.

People working on France’s film festival circuit – which spans some 600 individual events – are currently employed under a variety of different statuses and until now have relied on general unemployment benefit to survive between contracts.  

They say an upcoming reform of unemployment benefit will likely leave them ineligible for support, which in turn will force them to quit the sector.

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