Stage workers pledge Cannes film fest safe

7th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 7 (AFP) - A trade union for French arts workers said Friday that it would organise protests during this month's Cannes film festival against changes to the unemployment benefits of short-term staff but promised not to sabotage the event.

PARIS, May 7 (AFP) - A trade union for French arts workers said Friday that it would organise protests during this month's Cannes film festival against changes to the unemployment benefits of short-term staff but promised not to sabotage the event.

"We are not against film screenings at Cannes," the secretary general of the National Union of Musical Artists, Marc Slyper, told AFP, and "if provocative acts take place we shall condemn them."

But, he said, "opinions will be strongly voiced during the festival," a glittering event on the French Riviera that runs from May 12 to 23 and is expected to draw some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron.

The union has set up a group called Cannes Short-Term Workers' Struggle (its initials spell the word "sky" or "heaven" in French) to make clear its opposition to new rules which enable fewer people to qualify for unemployment benefits and reduce the amount paid to them.

The group plans to hold a news conference on May 14 and a demonstration the following day, Slyper said.

The director general of the festival, Veronique Cayla, said the organisers would provide a platform for the workers to air their grievances.

"There is no incomptability between wanting to welcome cinema directors and actors from all over the world and wanting to welcome the short-termers," she said.

On Thursday, French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres met with arts workers to explain a government plan to establish a provisional fund for arts workers whose unemployment benefits were cut, to which the government would contribute EUR 20 million (USD 24.3 million).

Union representatives said the proposals were inadequate and "far from soothing tensions, the culture minister's words are throwing oil on the fire".

Donnedieu de Vabres told private radio Europe 1 that "Cannes is a very important rendezvous in terms of artistic and cultural activity in this country" and that any attempt to disrupt it "would be a catastrophe for cultural employment".

Last summer, protests by arts performers and technicians led to the cancellation of numerous festivals across France - and millions of euros in lost revenues.

Organizers fear this summer's offerings may suffer a similar fate, with the Cannes film fest, the Montpellier dance festival and the Festival of Lyric Art in Aix-en-Provence in the line of fire.


© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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