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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Cannes chiefs reach strike deal
Cannes film festival
Security is being tightened at the festival site
Cannes Film Festival organisers have made a deal with striking arts workers who had threatened to disrupt the event, which starts on Wednesday.

The workers have been on strike since last summer in protest at reforms which would cut their unemployment benefits.

Festival management said they would allow the protesters to make statements about their demands during the event.

They will also be given a local theatre which can act as a meeting place and an office during the festival.

It follows the intervention of the country's prime minister, who said the organisation in charge of state benefits, which is planning the cuts, should start talks with the workers.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin said in a letter to Unedic head Denis Gautier-Sauvignac he was "committed to the survival" of the unemployment fund for actors, stage hands, musicians and other performing artists.

Negotiations

The fund gives money to out-of-work artists between jobs.

But a 840m euro shortfall (564m) has led to calls to cut the benefits.

The government has acted to ease the reform, but many artists said they were not satisfied. The plan takes effect next year.

Julien Dray, spokesman for the opposition Socialist Party, accused Mr Raffarin of trying to "force the hand" of Unedic and urged a new start to negotiations.

Last year, the dispute caused the cancellation of a string of events across the country and the three-week Avignon arts festival was abandoned after protests.

On Friday, striking arts workers briefly blocked a shipment of movie reels headed to Cannes.




SEE ALSO:
Protesters 'will not hit Cannes'
10 May 04  |  Entertainment
Films blocked by French strikers
08 May 04  |  Entertainment
Moves to stop Cannes film strike
06 May 04  |  Entertainment
Strikers 'could disrupt Cannes'
16 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Nicholson backs French actors
10 Jul 03  |  Entertainment


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