Only yesterday, we reported that DNEG, the global vfx behemoth, had asked all staff earning over $43,200 to take a significant pay cut. Turmoil continues to spread through the industry, with reports that Technicolor has laid off hundreds of vfx workers in Canada.
Technicolor, which is based in Paris, France, is the parent company of a number of vfx studios located around the world. According to the Art Babbitt Appreciation Society (ABAS), a grassroots organization campaigning to unionize Canada’s animation and vfx industries, the company has laid off hundreds of workers across three studios in Montreal — MPC, Mr. X, and Mill Film — as well as its educational work program Technicolor Academy. ABAS’s assertion corroborates rumors of job losses that have been circulating for some weeks. In February, MPC won an Oscar for its vfx work on 1917 (pictured above), which involved Montreal staff.
ABAS raises this issue in a strongly worded letter to Technicolor’s CEO Richard Moat, which doesn’t directly address the causes of the layoffs, but castigates the company for letting staff go amid the coronavirus crisis, “at a time when their need for support is paramount.” The collective alleges that they were let go “without pay and without notice,” and that the cuts extend to both “highly technical positions” and “temporary foreign workers [working] under highly precarious visa requirements.” Technicolor has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, but we will update the story with their response if they provide one.
Canada’s federal government has announced a scheme to subsidize up to 75% of wages of workers impacted by the crisis. ABAS wants Technicolor to rehire its staff at once, making use of this scheme if necessary. “During [this] pandemic,” it continues, “companies must sacrifice alongside everyone else in Canada to support their workers in order to claim the mantle of morally upright community participants.”
Technicolor has been significantly cutting back on its Canada operations in recent months. Its MPC studio in Vancouver, which had recently worked on Cats and Sonic the Hedgehog, was abruptly shut down last December.
ABAS is a nationwide collective of hundreds of animation workers agitating for better rights. Its aim is to create a union to represent Canada’s animation and vfx workers. To this end, it partnered with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) last July. IATSE is the largest union representing the industry on the continent, although many workers in the U.S. are still unrepresented and labor disputes remain common. In Canada, not a single animation, vfx, or gaming studio is unionized.
Read ABAS’s full letter to Technicolor, originally posted on the group’s Twitter account, below: