Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

US actors' strike vote is delayed

SAG rally in June 2008
A ballot will not now take place until 14 January at the earliest

The Screen Actors Guild has postponed its vote on whether to go on strike because of divisions among its members.

It wanted to ballot members on 2 January but will not now do so until 14 January at the earliest.

SAG, which has 120,000 members, objects to studio plans to make one-off rather than residual payments to actors in shows made for the internet.

Some 2,524 actors have endorsed a ballot while 1,373 are opposed to it. A strike could disrupt February's Oscars.

Those in favour of the ballot include Martin Sheen and Mel Gibson while those against include Tom Hanks and Cameron Diaz.

This division does not help our effort to get an agreement from the AMPTP that our members will ratify
Doug Allen

Earlier this month, a New York division of the union called for a delay saying it was "irresponsible" to threaten a strike while the movie industry dealt with the current economic downturn.

SAG chief negotiator Doug Allen said in a statement: "This division does not help our effort to get an agreement from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that our members will ratify."

As a result, the ballot had been postponed and a "special face-to-face" board meeting had been called in Los Angeles on 12 and 13 January to "address this unfortunate division and restore the consensus", he added.

A strike authorisation ballot would not be rescheduled until 14 January at the earliest, Mr Allen said.

If, following a ballot, 75% of voting members approved the measure, the SAG national board would be able to call a strike.

Oscars threat

Actors are currently working under the provisions of their old contract, which expired on 30 June, with their leaders failing to reach agreement with the AMPTP on a new one.

Writers' strike
The three-month writers' strike ended in February

SAG says that studio plans to use one-off payments on made-for-internet productions have wider implications.

It says that many actors rely on residuals - payments made every time a production is repeated - for more than half their income.

The AMPTP had previously attacked a strike ballot, saying SAG members were being asked "to bail out a failed negotiating strategy by going on strike during one of the worst economic crises in history".

Such industrial action could ruin the Academy Awards, due to take place in Los Angeles on 22 February, with actors unlikely to cross any picket lines.

The 2008 Golden Globes ceremony was called off and replaced with a press conference because of the three-month Hollywood writers' strike, which ended in February.

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