French Labor Org Calls for Strike at the Cannes Film Festival

French Labor Org Calls for Strike at the Cannes Film Festival

An organization representing freelance festival workers is calling for a strike during the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

Called Sous les écrans la dèche (Broke Behind the Screens), the org is protesting against a looming labor reform that will see their unemployment indemnities slashed by more than half. The org brings together hundreds of workers at festivals, from projectionists to drivers and caterers, who are threatening to strike during Cannes which could potentially cause major disruptions.

France has a unique system which allows freelance workers within the film and TV industries to receive benefits – or indemnities — during their unemployment periods. These benefits are only accessible to those who have worked a certain number of hours in the year.

Jean-Charles Canu, the longtime publicist of Cannes’ Directors Fortnight who is a prominent member of Sous les écrans de la dèche, told Variety that the French government has already cut by half the amount of indemnities paid to workers and is preparing to introduce a new decree on July 1 which he fears will raise the required number of hours that freelance workers will have to complete in order to seek compulsory benefits. “If it’s enacted, this bill will cause about 80% of festival workers to change jobs because they’ll won’t have enough to make ends meet,” said Canu. Sous les écrans la dèche is demanding that part-time festival workers receive benefits as other stringers within the cultural world in live entertainment. Indeed, those who work in theater or any other live entertainment jobs receive larger unemployment benefits because they are considered as “intermittents du spectacle.”

In an open letter send to Variety, Sous les écrans la dèche said they decided to call for a strike after warning “about the growing precariousness of the people working in film festivals.”

“We go from short term missions to periods of unemployment, and despite the intermittent nature of our profession and our striving for the circulation of cinematographic work, our activity does not fall within the French intermittent status benefit plan for show business workers!”

“The latest reforms of unemployment benefits in France and the one scheduled for July 1st of this year, which will be passed by decree, are further hardening the benefit rules for employment seekers. These reforms are throwing festival workers in such precariousness that the majority of us will have to give up our jobs, thus jeopardizing the events we take part in.”

The Cannes Film Festival will take place May 14-25.

Here’s the rest of the letter:

Therefore, we demand that the organizations which employ us be affiliated to a
collective agreement allowing us to be hired under the status of show business
worker’s intermittence and that our positions be integrated to the unemployment
benefit system, retroactive to the last 18 months.

Our warnings and demands have been received with polite consideration so far, but
no concrete mesure has been offered by the CNC or the Ministry of Culture.
That is why the upcoming opening of the Cannes festival is leaving us with a bitter

In a context of extreme vulnerability and absolute emergency to protect our work, and
after consultation and vote of the members of the collective, we call for a strike of all
employees of the Cannes Film Festival and of its sidebars.”

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