Cannes Film Festival workers called for strike over pay dispute

The collective French film festival workers stated that the two central issues around this are inadequate pay and exclusion from France's unemployment insurance program for entertainment workers.

6 MAY 2024

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The collective French film festival workers have set plans to mount a widespread strike action during this year’s Cannes Film Festival over pay, as reported by Deadline. The group, known as the Collectif des Précaires des Festivals de Cinéma (which translates to The Collective of Precarious Workers at Film Festivals), confirmed this with an open letter sent to the media.

In the letter, the group stated: “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 its sidebars.”

The collective comprises around 200 French workers from film festivals — a mix of Cannes staff, encompassing those involved in the Official Selection, the festival’s Marché du Film, and parallel sections like Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week — as well as workers from various other festivals across France. Among the potential strikers are festival projectionists, press officers, and administrative personnel.

The group's decision to strike stems from two primary concerns. Firstly, they are protesting the insufficient pay they receive from their employers, which they argue fails to adequately compensate for the extensive overtime hours they frequently work due to the demanding nature of their roles.

The second issue revolves around France's distinct unemployment insurance program for entertainment workers and technicians, known as Intermittence de Spectacle. This system provides unemployment benefits to entertainment workers on short-term contracts during periods of joblessness or between projects. To be eligible, workers must demonstrate they've accumulated a certain number of hours over the financial year. These benefits are financed through employer taxes. However, due to regulatory intricacies, many workers at French film festivals are ineligible for these benefits. Instead, they are engaged under flat short-term contracts. The collective is advocating to be included in this program, citing the seasonal nature of their work.

“We demand that the organizations which employ us be affiliated to a collective agreement allowing us to be hired under the status of intermittent show business workers and that our positions be integrated into the unemployment benefit system,” the open letter said.

The Cannes Film Festival has not issued a response to the strike action yet.