On the 20th of October 2010 Sir Peter Jackson went public with claims the Hobbit was endangered by a union do-not-work notice he described as “blacklisting”. The resulting fracas and the final deal done between the Government and Warners are now all too well known.
This Tuesday we saw the release of emails showing that Peter Jackson and Gerry Brownlee were aware that the do not work notice was lifted by the time the Sir Peter went public. Back in 2010, Brownlee called me a liar when I put these facts forward, even though he knew them to be true and was at the table when they were agreed. Indeed Brownlee continues to obfuscate about the circumstances surrounding the deal.
I have now decided to release the emails between Warners and the US Screen Actors Guild showing that everyone knew the dispute was over and the ban lifted. Normally in a settlement this type of correspondence would be kept confidential, but Warners have not played straight and the public deserve better.
These emails show that all parties to the negotiations were aware that the do not work notice had been lifted two days before Sir Peter went public and that the unions and Warners were in the process of drafting agreed press releases to announce it. The emails also show the union had agreed to hold its release until Warners was ready. This is made clear from the email sent by senior Warners executive, Stephen Carroll on the 18th of October:
Looking back on what happened in 2010, I think there were three fundamental elements of this dispute:
A small organisation with limited resources and a vulnerable workforce, sought to enjoy what other workers in their industry enjoy worldwide – the international right to collectively bargain.
A major international corporation combined with a powerful NZ film company, and an anti- worker Government, to ensure there would not be union bargaining in the growing NZ film industry.
In a deal was struck without basis and against our international legal obligations, that removed even the most basic of work rights from the entire workforce (minimum wage protections, Holidays Act, protection from unfair dismissal).
The Government and others lied to the people of New Zealand in an effort to retain the perception of a crisis in order to gain legitimacy for its actions. It was a shameful moment in New Zealand’s political history.