Payroll fail threatens major festival’s last days

by Ben Abbott09 Sep 2015
The 39th Festival des films du monde (FFM) in Montreal almost fell flat in its last few days due to payroll issues that resulted in payment delays of over a month.
The Montreal Gazette reports the long-running festival had missed repeated paycheque deadlines, the last of which again passed unheeded on Friday.
Employees had been waiting for payments from the festival body for up to a month, and had seen deadlines repeatedly shifted and paycheques not arrive.
The debacle led to a group of employees meeting last week to consider abandoning the festival in its last weekend, before closing day on Monday.
Employees eventually decided to stay on out of loyalty to the festival, and issue an open letter that expressed their frustration with the payment issue.
“Following many empty promises of payment, the last one dating to September 4, we express our concern regarding the financial uncertainty and demand the proper payment for our work,” the open letter read.
“Despite our unhappiness and the considerable impact of these unpaid salaries on our daily lives, we have decided to stay on and to finish the festival.
“We do so in order to support the filmmakers who have come from afar (many at their own expense) in order to share their work with festivalgoers.”
An anonymous employee told the Montreal Gazette that paycheque deadlines were pushed repeatedly in the days before last weekend.
“What I heard is that people should have been paid Thursday by midnight,” the employee said. “Then, it was that the cheques would be brought Friday at 2 p.m.; but it dragged and dragged and dragged, and by the end of the day Friday they still (hadn’t arrived).”
Legal issues stopped employees going further in their open letter, with initial drafts having been more aggressively worded and ‘naming names’.
The employees represented included  projectionists, presenters, drivers, delegates, coordinators and technicians.


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