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France's top theatre festival to go ahead despite strike threat

1st July 2014, Comments 0 comments

France's top theatre festival in the southern city of Avignon will open as planned on Friday despite a strike by arts workers that has hit other events.

About 80 percent of workers associated with the festival voted for the opening to go ahead as planned, a spokeswoman for the festival workers said on Tuesday.

"We want this festival... to be a loudspeaker for the demands of precarious" performers and arts workers, the spokeswoman said.

Of 350 workers directly associated with the festival, 309 voted late Monday with about 80 percent wanting it to go ahead as scheduled.

The CGT-Spectacle union had called for a "massive strike" on the opening day of the Avignon festival, in line with other recent job action by arts workers protesting changes to their benefit system.

The protest has hit events in Paris and several other cities and led to cancellations.

Under French law some 250,000 workers in the film, theatre, television and festival industry benefit from a system that compensates them for periods when they do not work, in a bid to address their chronic job insecurity.

But many are unhappy with a deal reached between some unions, employers and the government in March to try to save money on this loss-making welfare regime. The agreement would increase their payroll taxes, among other changes.

They have issued a strike notice to the end of July.

The opening play of the Avignon festival is "The Prince of Homburg".

© 2014 AFP

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