The Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) plans to picket the launch of pay-TV broadcaster M-Net’s new locally produced soapie, The Wild, on Sunday 2 April at Johannesburg’s Montecasino on behalf of an actor who was “unfairly dismissed’ from the soap.
Said CWUSA President Kid Sithole: “We held a press conference at Cosatu House in Braamfontein this morning [31 March] on the issue of the actor’s unfair dismissal. He refused to sign the M-Net contract which would have required him to sign away all commercial exploitation rights and the right to residuals. If he had signed the contract M-Net would have taken away his cash cow. When he didn’t sign the contract he was dismissed. We engaged with M-Net management but to no avail.
“By picketing the launch of The Wild CWUSA is sending a strong message to broadcasters not to tamper with actors’ rights. As part of the picket we will present a manifesto to M-Net.’
In the meantime, the South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) has arranged a meeting with M-Net on 14 April to discuss contractual issues and residuals. Said: SAGA’s Carlynn de Waal-Smit: “While we support the actor who was dismissed we disagree with CWUSA’s tactics. We think it is a better idea to meet with M-Net to discuss the issues.’
Screen Africa asked M-Net Corporate Communications director Lani Lombard to clarify M-Net’s policy regarding residuals. She responded: “M-Net’s current standard contract with actors compensates them for their services and is inclusive of fees for residuals, royalties and repeats. When we determine the renumeration of actors for their services we take this into account, and as a result we pay above average remuneration. The details of the remuneration levels are confidential, but we believe the levels are more than fair.
“One must also remember that we work via agents when engaging actors, and thus we contract directly with the actor’s agent. We pride ourselves in boosting the local television industry by creating and commissioning as many local productions as possible. M-Net commissioned productions are fully owned by M-Net for broadcast on all our platforms.’