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B.C. directors poised for retroactive wage hikes if guild approves labour agreement

Directors, producers have been at odds for more than a year
A film crew in downtown Vancouver.

B.C. film directors and other members of their guild are poised for some bigger paycheques after more than a year at odds with employers over their labour agreement.

tentative agreement was reached last week between the B.C. chapter of the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) and the negotiating employers, the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

More details about the agreement are now being released ahead of DGC members voting this coming Sunday (June 19) about whether to approve the deal.

Members would be looking at three per cent annual wage hikes that would be retroactive to July 11, 2021, in addition to mandatory accommodation or transportation at the expense of producers for guild members who work 14 hours or more and are too tired to drive home.

The agreement would also mean producers would have to pay a penalty if they fail to provide guild members with meals in what the DGC describes as a “timely manner.”

“This was a huge gain for the DGC,” the guild stated in a release.

The DGC’s collective agreement covers not only directors, but second-unit directors, production and unit managers, and those working in the assistant director and locations departments.

Location managers would see their wages shoot up 15.8 per cent during the three-year term of the potential new agreement, which would expire March 31, 2024.

The deal would also require minimum wage differentials to be paid out to workers who make just above the minimum wage, ensuring that their income increases as well.

Workers would also see the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognized as a statutory holiday.

While Orange Shirt Day is a stat holiday for federal employees, it’s not universally recognized as a stat among all provinces and employers across Canada.

“The membership’s resolve drove significant gains, especially for the lowest-paid and entry-level workers,” DGC’s B.C. chairman Allan Harmon said in a statement.

Voting on the deal will run five days.

The CMPA and AMPTP said in a statement to BIV last week they were "pleased" with the tentative agreement that would "restore labour stability in British Columbia."

The DGC issued strike notice April 26 after negotiations broke down with employers a day earlier. 

Guild members voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike mandate earlier that month amid ongoing disagreements with producers, meaning made-in-B.C. film productions not covered under safe harbour agreements faced potential job action.

The CMPA and AMPTP previously said in April they might have to reconsider plans for new productions in the province amid potential “labour instability.”

Negotiations had been going on more than a year, including mediation conducted with help from the province’s Labour Relations Board (LRB), prior to the issuing of strike notice.

Both the guild and employers blamed each other for the breakdown following recommendations from the LRB’s mediator.

The province’s film industry was worth $3.3 billion to the economy in the last fiscal year, according to CMPA data.

The vast majority of B.C.’s production activity was concentrated on foreign service work for mostly Hollywood features and TV shows, generating $2.7 billion. That means B.C. was home to 52 per cent of all foreign service work done in Canada this past year.