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France

Avignon festival under threat from stage hands' strike

A demonstration in front of the culture ministry in Paris this month
A demonstration in front of the culture ministry in Paris this month Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

The Avignon theatre festival and France’s other summer arts festivals may not take place due to a strike threat by stage-hands and other arts-support workers. On Friday unions extended their threat to strike to the end of July.

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TheCGT-Spectacle union also called for a massive strike on 4 July, the opening day of the renowned international theatre festival in Avignon.

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Under French law some 250,000 workers in the film, theatre, television and festival industry, known as intermittents, benefit from a system that pays them during periods when they do not work.

The measure was a recognition of the sporadic nature of their employment as well as the importance of culture in French life.

But many are unhappy with a deal reached between some unions, employers and the government in March which would increase their payroll taxes.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has refused to go back on the deal but announced on Thursday that the state would pay the difference in the payments scheme until a final agreement was reached.

But the concession does not satisfy many of the intermittents and they are keeping up the pressure in what has been a long-running dispute that has seen performances cancelled or preceded by statements by protesting workers.
 

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