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US actors union strike reaches one month mark

US actors union strike reaches one-month mark

A major Hollywood strike by US actors and writers, which has paralysed the film and television industry, has reached its one-month mark.

Members of the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) have been on strike since July 14, after negotiations over new contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down.

Scores of big Hollywood names including Academy Award winners Jessica Chastain and Brendan Fraser, and fellow actors Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk and Hilary Duff have been pictured on the picket lines in Los Angeles and New York over the past four weeks.

The strike has resulted in a major stalling of major Hollywood productions, events and award ceremonies, with actors forbidden from engaging in any promotional activity for work.

Sag-Aftra, which represents around 160,000 actors across the US, has raised concerns over a number of issues including pay and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Its members joined their colleagues from the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who walked out on May 2, and recently marked 100 days of strikes.

Sag-Aftra chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said the strike could become “the catalyst for a historic culture change in all industries” as he praised members for their commitment to the cause.

“We are living in a historic hour, as we fight to achieve a seminal contract, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 60 years,” he said in an online statement.

“It was 1960 when we last went on strike alongside the WGA and achieved pension and health plans and residuals.

“Our futures depend on not accepting anything less transformative in this negotiation.”

Since the beginning of the strike, some independent productions have been granted interim agreements to allow them to resume.

Mr Crabtree-Ireland said the agreements were introduced to “give journeymen performers and crew the opportunity to pay their bills and put food on the table by working on these indie projects”.

He continued: “Our strike can become the catalyst for a historic culture change in all industries, whereby making money and doing the right thing on behalf of workers are no longer mutually exclusive of each other but go hand in hand, redefining the meaning of success.”

Last month, Hollywood star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a historic seven-figure donation to the Sag-Aftra Foundation Relief Fund for actors who face “financial ruin” during the actors’ strike, according to US outlet Variety.

The action has prompted responses from US political figures including US president Joe Biden and California governor Gavin Newsom, who contacted both Sag-Aftra and the AMPTP in an effort to help broker a deal.

It has also affected productions in the UK, with filming paused on upcoming films including a Formula 1 feature film starring Brad Pitt and Deadpool 3, and on the musical film Wicked.

British acting union Equity held a solidarity rally in Leicester Square, in central London, which was attended by stars including Brian Cox, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Hayley Atwell, and Imelda Staunton.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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