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Swedish actors go silent in kids' TV strike

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Swedish actors go silent in kids' TV strike
15:00 CEST+02:00
Swedish actors who dub children's programmes from industry giants such as Disney are in their second week of strike action over wages that have remained stagnant for a decade.

"Television is part of children's language development, and they have a right to good quality," Swedish Actors Union (Teaterförbundet) Secretary General Jaan Kolk told The Local.

He said the profession had a lower status in Sweden because film and television is only dubbed for children, while many European countries dub near all productions. They also, Kolk noted, often have one domestic actor who always interprets the same Hollywood star.

"It's easier to replace an actor dubbing for children, who may not be as observant as adults, than to pluck out the man who gets to dub Tom Cruise in every movie," Kolk said.

Across Europe, however, the reliance on short-term contracts and freelancers made the actors more vulnerable, he added.

In Sweden, the union has calculated that salaries and freelance fees for dubbing actors have stayed at the same level since 2003, while wages across the Swedish labour market have gone up by about 30 percent over the past ten years.

A four-percent hike with the promise of regular re-negotiations was presented to two dubbing companies in April. The studios responded by asking for more time to consider the deal on the table, but when no response materialized, the actors went out on strike on April 26th, the actors went on strike.

About 150 of the union's 2,400 actor members work for two dubbing studios, SDI Media and Dubberman, who translate and rerecord dialogue for children's programmes from companies such as Disney, Warner, and Fox.

Two weeks into the blockade - with freelancers turning down jobs and salaried employees on strike - the union has accused the studios of bringing in strike breakers. The TT news agency tried and failed on Friday to reach the two studios affected by the blockade.

"We're getting reports that they are willing to pay double fees to circumnavigate the blockade," said Kolk.

"Our goal with the strike is not only to increase the wages, but try to introduce normal employer-employee relations in this segment of the labour market," Kolk said.

Ann Törnkvist

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