Solidarity and trade union cooperation to mitigate COVID impact in the entertainment sector of the Americas


Solidarity and trade union cooperation to mitigate COVID impact in the entertainment sector of the Americas

FIA and UNI MEI brought their regional memberships together to share experience and best practices with respect to ensuring maximum safety on set or on stage in post lockdown, pre-vaccine environment in the Americas. A series of webinars are taking place between October and December.

Trade union leaders, health & safety experts and rank and file members of both federations have already taken part in two webinars to discuss the existing response to the COVID-19 crisis for the live performance and audiovisual sectors. Unions from Argentina, Canada, the United States and Uruguay presented the safety protocols to manage a safe return for cast and crew to productions. Further, campaigns and actions geared to obtain financial relief and support programs for industry and workers were highlighted.

The events are organised as part of a 3-year project, funded with the support of the Swedish member union Teaterförbundet and Union to Union, the Swedish trade union movement’s organisation for international development cooperation. The project runs from 2020 to 2022 and aims at increasing the capacity of union leaders in Latin America to make unions more powerful and sustainable. Since project meetings for 2020 were cannot take place physically, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our federations have adapted and resorted to carrying out capacity building work by online, with a series of webinars and other formats.

The first webinar in October, focused on good practices from Argentina, where a new protocol has been released after the summer. Several smaller health & safety agreements had already been negotiated between specific unions and employers in Argentina as an emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis during the springtime, but the New Global Argentinean Protocol is much broader and inclusive. This 72-page document is the outcome of months of negotiations between the Argentinean government, the employers, and professional associations as well as all the unions of the sector. The co-chair o the webinar, PANARTES President, Miguel Paniagua (SUTEP, Argentina) underlined:  “The strong solidarity among unions of both FIA and UNI increase the capacity and power of every single unions and the workers they represent in this important and difficult effort of negotiating and enforcing safety measures across the country during this pandemic. It is important that we continue to promote union to union cooperation in the Americas to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The second webinar took plave in early November and presented the trade union approaches of Canada and the United States and Uruguay. The safety protocols and guidelines negotiated with the major US employers also apply to their productions in Canada, but FIA and UNI MEI affiliates have jointly worked towards specific rules for Canadian productions adapted to the specific nature and volume of the local industries across the different provinces. ACTRA, DGC and IATSE have multiplied their efforts to ensure that government programmes not only protect producers but also prioritize protection for workers and also require, as a condition to eligibility of producers, an appropriate level of health and safety protocols on set. The protocol of Uruguay has been negoiated by UNI MEI affiliate GREMIOCINE, the Business Chamber of Advertising Production Companies of Uruguay (CEPPU) and the Association of Film Producers and Directors of Uruguay (ASOPROD) and covers all production sectors. The protocol contributed to maintain production activities and is reviewed regularly.

Two more regional webinars are scheduled on 26 November on digital organising and 9 December 2020 when the first result of a study on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the audiovisual and live performance sectors in the Americas will be presented. The study carried out in partnership with the  Universidad Metropolitana para la Educación y el Trabajo (UMET) of Buenos Aires analyses the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the response trade unions are adopting to mitigate the negative impacts for workers in the sector. The geographic scope of the study includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, the United States and Uruguay.