web analytics

A couple of points about the Hobbit dispute

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 pm, October 4th, 2010 - 62 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Actors Equity have posted their Australian counterparts minimum standards document.

Some of the outrageous clauses that would surely cripple the industry here include:

The Producer or his/her representative may not direct the Artist to smoke or appear to be smoking except where such a request has been previously discussed with the Artist and expressly stated in the Artist’s contract or the separate written consent of the Artist has been obtained, and the Producer may not, for publicity purposes use stills of the Artist appearing in such scenes.

and

Where the Artist is required to make him/herself available for publicity and/or promotion work outside his/her normal working hours s/he shall be paid at the rate of the BNF with a minimum Call of two and one half hours.

and

(a) The ordinary hours of work shall be based on eight hours per day exclusive of a meal break to be worked continuously between the hours of 6.30am and 11.00pm on five days of the week Monday to Saturday.
(b) All meal breaks other than tea breaks shall be in the Artist’s time. Tea breaks shall be counted as time worked.

There’s plenty more pretty basic stuff in there and I’d recommend you take a look. If this is the kind of stuff Actors Equity is after then it seems pretty odd that the producers were so dead set against meeting. I’ve heard the argument that that’s all in the pink book but the deal with the pink book is is sets guidelines. There’s not a legal or enforceable clause in the whole thing. It’s kind of like letting workers have input to company policy that is applied entirely at their managers’ discretion.

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to point out that it is truly astounding that John Key has offered to get involved in this dispute. Especially after his Minister for the Arts basically sided with the employer. I can’t imagine how worked up the right would have got if Helen Clark had offered to intervene in an industrial dispute after implicitly backing the union involved.

In fact just last year the Prime Minister was asked about the government’s involvement in the Telecom/EPMU dispute which concerned a significantly more important matter than a single film – the terms and conditions of hundreds of telco lines workers. He answered (via Tony Ryall):

The Prime Minister is advised that this is an issue of contracts between private companies, and it is not appropriate for the Government to intervene.

So Key seems to think that hundreds of skilled telco workers getting their livelihoods ripped off them in a way that endangers our telecommunications infrastructure is an issue of contracts between private companies but he needs to step in when a few actors dare to ask for some basic minimum standards?

What a disgrace.

62 comments on “A couple of points about the Hobbit dispute ”

  1. BLiP 1

    Can’t have the CTU taking a lead on this, can we? No, of course not. Especially when there’s such public interest in seeing a positive outcome. Watch as John Key strolls along and, hey presto, its all solved. Trouble is, we’ll never know what went down in the Beehive. What’s another billion dollars of other people’s money to him?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      The Government’s offered to mediate? After Finlayson reassured PJ and the big corporates that they could go as hard as they liked against the workers’ union by keeping players on as contractors?

      Bwhahahaha.

      • tea 1.1.1

        am I not allowed to laugh but call them the fucktards that they are?

        Their amorality is scary…

    • BigSigh 1.2

      Yep, that is what it looks like. I got momentarily hopeful of a good outcome when I saw the CTU was getting involved, but now Key has stolen the march on the unions, and unfortunately the bad taste left in the average non-unionised Kiwi’s mouth by the AE/MEAAs approach and coverage won’t be cleanly washed away. It can only be good for National.

      It’s amazing how this party can chop and change like this, say one thing to one group, another to a different group. Have one principal on Monday, follow a different one on Thursday. And noone in this country seems to mind so long as when they’re the ones being spoken to they’re hearing the words they want to, nevermind what Key and Co. tell another group tomorrow.

      Be interesting to see what tax cuts are on the offering to PJ and friends. (I guess PJ might have something to thank the unions for in the end.)

  2. Will any actor in the Hobbit be required to smoke? 🙂

    • felix 2.1

      Point?

    • Armchair Critic 2.2

      Was any actor in Atlas Shrugged required to smoke?

    • The Voice of Reason 2.3

      Um, before I fell asleep, I’m sure there were scenes in the LOTR where hobbits smoked pipes. So, yeah, maybe.

      • Colonial Viper 2.3.1

        Did you think that was real tobacco smoke? Come’on, with the magic of CGI, they could’ve been snorting crack cocaine against a blue screen and we couldn’t have told the difference.

        • NickS 2.3.1.1

          Speaking as a video game nerd with a smattering to knowledge in graphics, realistic smoke is a nightmare to make real-time in a video game, even with directx11 hardware. CGI is a little easier, but given the drift towards HD video, and the rendering costs, it’s more cost-effective to get the actors to smoke than it is to add it in later.

  3. RedLogix 3

    The other totally bizzare aspect of this case is that three Ministers of the Crown, including the PM have now all publically weighed …very openly… into a labour dispute.

    Since the time of Muldoon it has been the fairly strict practise of Ministers, of all govts, not to be seen openly taking sides in a labour dispute the Crown had no direct interest in. And even in the case they did, it would be pretty low-key.

    So what’s changed? There has been a major break with convention here.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      This should give you confidence that CERRA will be used properly and responsibly, no?

      Wow if National get in for a second term, I am guessing our world is really going to change. They can barely hold themselves back now.

  4. Only National can tell us what is in the National Interest.

  5. B 5

    Key & co have only got involved because they have prior knowledge of the result & want to take credit for it.

    • IrishBill 5.1

      Yeah, I suspect the same. Couldn’t let Helen Kelly and the CTU get the credit for their hard work on this. What a champ.

  6. Gosman 6

    Anybody listen to Phillipa Boyens on None to Noon on RNZ National yesterday?

    Seems quite clear that the Aussie Union is attempting to use this for publicity purposes and has been engaging in less than upfront tactics to do so.

    She also stated that this is far more serious than the Union realises as they seem to be interested in playing games over boycotts etc.

    • Tiger Mountain 6.1

      “You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart” –Fred Allen.

      Kind of how I feel about NZ Film producers at the moment.

  7. James 7

    “There’s not a legal or enforceable clause in the whole thing.”

    So, Irishbill, tell me what’s legal or enforceable about what Actor’s Equity and the MEAA are trying to do instead of the pink book?

    If you can answer that you win the right to call yourself the person that solved this entire problem.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      It’s legal for them to come to a minimum employment agreement with Jackson. It’s also legal for them to get him to offer a minimum standards contract that sits under all other contracts he offers. While the latter isn’t a document the union can sign on behalf of their members it can be done as an agreement offered by Jackson. Unless you’re arguing he can’t offer a uniform base-contract legally (in such a case just about every franchise contract in the country would be unlawful).

      • James 7.1.1

        that minimum standards contract you’re describing wouldn’t be legally enforceable though.

        Even if he did it, the actors as independant contractors would then go ahead and sign their own contracts, which would have nothing to do with anything agreed with to the union in any legally enforceable way. Sure it could be a ‘guideline’ that the union could get snippy about if the production didn’t follow it. But it wouldn’t be legally enforceable.

        So what’s the difference between that and the pink book? Nothing.

        Now, if the union want to make their members negotiate as employees, rather than independent contractors, that’s a whole other matter. But they don’t, so that’s really the end of it.

        • IrishBill 7.1.1.1

          If the the individual contractors signed the base contract in addition to their main contract, or if the base contract was integrated with the individual contracts they signed it would be completely legally enforceable.

          The same could be done with the pink book but, as I understand it (I haven’t seen a copy), is weighted toward the employer. I suspect the leverage supplied by the support of overseas unions gave the actors the idea that they could aim to put in a better, Hobbit specific, set of minimum standards.

          And fair enough too. This is business and business is about leverage. God knows employers in the film industry have been using their leverage to their advantage over the last two decades.

          • James 7.1.1.1.1

            I think you can get a copy of the pink book online.

            “I suspect the leverage supplied by the support of overseas unions gave the actors the idea that they could aim to put in a better, Hobbit specific, set of minimum standards.”

            Well sure, but they wouldn’t be legally enforceable either.

            And besides which that’s what actor’s agents do anyway: negotiate the best possible deal for their clients.

            And that’s the problem everyone has: nobody is suggesting they don’t have the right to strike for leverage, or even that what they’re asking for is wrong. The problem is what they’re striking for, and putting the livelihood of so many other people’s jobs at stake for, not to mention their own members, is just a meaningless bit of paper that has no legal standing anyway. So why? Why would any reasonable union do that?

            Does it not speak volumes that none of the other unions are publicly supporting them? Perhaps it’s because they’re concerned about their own members losing their jobs for no good reason.

            • IrishBill 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Well sure, but they wouldn’t be legally enforceable either.

              If Jackson is forced to offer them and they are accepted then they are legally binding and enforceable under contract law. That’s what the strike/boycott/whatever the hell it is is about.

              The nuclear option of the strike/boycott/whatever the hell it is is the only leverage that has been available to them. Two points about that fact:

              1/ There’s something wrong with employment law surrounding independent contracting if that’s the only option.

              2/ The behaviour of film industry employers must have been pretty bad if it has come to using this option.

              I think the fact that other unions have not come out in support of the actors has something to do with the shit job the union has done of running this dispute and communicating with the public and other unions. To be fair to them they’re a bunch of IR amateurs up against some IR pros that would have even the most organised and powerful unions in this country playing a very careful game but that does not alter the fact that they are having a shot at a fair go in an industry that is notorious for never offering a fair go.

            • The Voice of Reason 7.1.1.1.1.2

              IB has already demonstrated that its perfectly possible to have a legally binding set of minimums here in NZ, let alone the fact that such things are the norm in the industry; at least the First World part of it. Or, gosh, the union members could just be hired as short term employees and get all the minimum protections by law, something most of the rest of us currently enjoy.

              If the Government felt like ending the dispute, they could even legislate to make such contractual arrangements specifically legal and that might keep crypto-legal pedants like yourself happy. They’ve rushed enough more significant things through the house under urgency, so why not?

              • IrishBill

                I’m just reading about the IHC business and have some concerns about what it may mean in terms of circumventing employment law. For a government that campaigned against “nanny state” they’re showing a concerning willingness to intervene in some employment matters.

                It’s one thing to run up anti-worker employment law in the plain light of day. It’s quite another to get involved at a hands-on level. I haven’t seen anything like it since the Muldoon days.

                • James

                  “If Jackson is forced to offer them and they are accepted then they are legally binding and enforceable under contract law.”
                  Offer to WHO? The Union? The Actors? what the hell are you talking about?

                  • IrishBill

                    The actors. It’s not a contract between the union and Jackson but a basic minimum standards contract offered to each actor individually by Jackson at the request of the union (which has the leverage) and signed by each actor individually. Such a situation would be a perfectly legal, if roundabout, answer to the situation under current law.

                    • James

                      Which is exactly the kind of conditions that would make studios never want to invest money in new zealand film productions.

                      What say half way through the production the union decides it wants better contracts? Another boycott? the film shuts down, and millions of dollars are lost.

                      So the studios don’t invest, productions don’t get made, who loses? The actors. Great plan.

                    • IrishBill

                      Nope, once the contracts are signed they are signed. That’s the case for big stars just as much as bit-part actors. A withdrawal of labour in such a circumstance would be a breach of contract that could be dealt with under law and would probably involve significant costs for the actor involved and damage their reputation and thus their career.

                      As an example, Brando pulled a stunt like that while making Apocalypse Now and, although he got what he wanted, it was his last major film.

                      Have you ever actually been in business? Because you seem to have an odd idea of how contracting works.

  8. bobo 8

    Ive not been following this debate closely but it seems to me the whole issue is being manufactured by Jackson as leverage to either get more tax credits from the gov or Jackson has made up his mind hes taking the filming overseas and needed a scapegoat to blame? Quite cunning of him if he gets more tax credits.

    • James 8.1

      Yes, cunning of him to control the mind of the MEAA so they’d boycott this production and make legally impossible demands, all so he could take the production overseas, even though he doesn’t make that decision anyway – it’s actually the film studios that pay for it that decide where it goes, and he’d just blame the studios if he wanted to do some of the shooting overseas or wanted to get more tax credits.

      He’s not only an evil asshole who hates new zealand, and has complete control over the film studios AND the australian union, he’s also magical.

      You’ve really figured this one out. Well done.

  9. James 9

    Sorry, couldn’t do any more replies on the last thread.

    “Nope, once the contracts are signed they are signed. That’s the case for big stars just as much as bit-part actors. A withdrawal of labour in such a circumstance would be a breach of contract that could be dealt with under law and would probably involve significant costs for the actor involved and damage their reputation and thus their career.

    As an example, Brando pulled a stunt like that while making Apocalypse Now and, although he got what he wanted, it was his last major film.

    Have you ever actually been in business? Because you seem to have an odd idea of how contracting works.”

    Yes, I understand it very well.

    The point is that the studios will not invest until they are certain there is no more potential for union action. This normally happens by having a legally binding collective contract with the union. In this case it can’t happen here.

    Let me explain a scenerio:

    PJ does what you say, the initial round of contracts are signed, the union is happy with them. Fine. Then in six months, an overseas actor who is due to shoot some scenes says ‘sorry, can’t do it anymore’. Maybe they’ve had an accident and can’t work. Maybe the shoot has gone overtime and they’re not available anymore. Something that legally gets them out of their contract. Hell, maybe it’s just their agent has found them a better gig and they want to be released from their initial contract and take the penalty clause. Happens all the time.

    At any rate, it’s perfectly normal to sign a series of actors on contracts over the course of a production. Double so for a big film like this that’s going to go on for at least 2 years.

    So after 6 months, they decide it’s time to hire a new overseas SAG actor. Or hell, maybe just even a NZ actor.

    What say then the union decides they have more leverage now, and call on the boycott again, because they want better contracts for all the NZ actors due to sign more contracts in the next year and a half of shooting?

    So, the studio is completely held to ransom, because they’ve already invested 100 million and they may end up losing it. Does that sound like something they’d be keen to invest in? No.

    That’s the point.

    • IrishBill 9.1

      So you assume that big name overseas actors will act in bad faith to aid the union in personal boycotts despite the base contracts being signed. Then you assume the union would act in bad faith. You also assume that not having minimum standards is a guarantee of no further union action (I would have thought the reverse was true).

      You’re engaging in fantasy based on absurd prejudices. What’s you next scenario? A group of evil unionists seize control of Peter Jackson’s vintage plane collection and threaten to blow it up if ever actor is not delivered a gold bar fashioned in the shape of the word “union”?

      Frankly I doubt you have any experience in business and, if you do, you’re probably not very good at it.

      • James 9.1.1

        No, I assume the studios will not pump hundreds of millions of dollars into a production that the union could choose to boycott at any time, because there’s actually no legal way of signing a collective bargaining agreement with them that is legally enforceable FROM ALL SIDES.

        That’s the point of a collective bargaining agreement: the studio will feel comfortable that there will be no more unrest, because the minimum standards have been agreed by both sides and it’s legally binding.

        So let’s say PJ does this thing, the conversation with the studio will be:

        PJ: Hi, I sorted this union issue out.
        Studio: Great! So they can’t boycott the production anymore?
        PJ: Well, sort of. They promised not to.
        Studio: What? Haven’t you signed a binding agreement that if you agree to their minimum standards, they won’t boycott?
        PJ: Um, not exactly…
        Studio: Can we have our 200 million back?

        So you’re expecting them just to ‘trust’ the union won’t act in bad faith.

        Good luck.

        If you have a problem with that, sure, try to change the legislation (good luck again, by the way, now all this s**t has gone down and no politician will touch it with a 40 foot pole) But striking against Peter Jackson isn’t going to make a shred of difference except lead to the above conversation and get the film shut down.

        And then the actors lose.

        Okay, that’s as clear as I can possibly make it.

        But I’m going to assume you trying to characterise my argument in ridiculous hyperbole, and personal attacks, in order to tear it down is your way of saying ‘I can’t actually think of a sensible reply to that’, and leave it at that.

        • Pete 9.1.1.1

          your argument takes the naive and media induced assumption that PJ is the only one who will be negotiating with the actors, with the studios not being involved. PJ is but one of a number of producers, including 3ft7, New Line, MGM and Warners. All of these producers will be party to any negotiation…

          • James 9.1.1.1.1

            The entirety of the actor’s equity demands are that they want to meet and negotiate with Peter Jackson.

            • Pete 9.1.1.1.1.1

              the resolution passed by actors (member and non-members of NZAE) states

              “This meeting of New Zealand performers:

              1. Calls on the producers of The Hobbit to meet with representatives of the NZ Actors’ Equity to discuss the arrangements under which NZ Actors’ Equity will recommend performers work on the production The Hobbit,

              2. Calls on the producers of The Hobbit to have good faith negotiations with representatives of NZ Actors’ Equity concerning the arrangements pursuant to which NZ Actors’ Equity will recommend performers work on the production The Hobbit; and

              3. Recommends that all performers wait before accepting any engagement on the production of The Hobbit until the production has advised whether it will enter into good faith negotiations with NZ Actors’ Equity with respect to the minimum conditions of engagement under which NZ Actors’ Equity will recommend performers work on the production The Hobbit, including minimum fees, conditions of engagement, professional protections and residuals. If the production advises it will not enter into such good faith negotiations then NZ Actors’ Equity should make a further recommendation to performers on what action should be taken at that time before performers accept engagement of the production.”

              Note: PRODUCERS, PJ not mentioned except as implied by PRODUCERS.

            • James 9.1.1.1.1.2

              [lprent: deleted on request. ]

              • James

                SORRY FOR THE DOUBLE POST, MY PARAGRAPHS WERE IN THE WRONG PLACE. PLEASE DELETE THE LAST ONE AND USE THIS INSTEAD, CHEERS
                [Done, but deleting the parent to this comment moved this comment out of the “reply” sequence. — r0b]

                Okay, let’s say we ignore the half a dozen media interviews and press statements where they’ve expicitly said ‘all we want to do is talk to Peter Jackson’ for one thing…

                But, good lord, even if they met with the Studios they’d be having the exact same conversation with the exact same problems: YOU CAN’T HAVE A LEGALLY BINDING COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT.

                Irishbill’s solution is laudable, in that it’s good to find a legally workable solution. But his one simply doesn’t work.

                No one has ever yet managed to come up with on that does, except doing something like the Pink Book which already exists and they’ve refused to negotiate on for almost 2 years because it’s not legally enforcable (when they have no actual alternative anyway). So WHAT THE HELL IS THIS BOYCOTT FOR?!

                Another Pink Book (that’s not legally enforceable) specifically for the hobbit, when they’re also saying they’re striking because the industry-wide Pink Book is useless (apparently because it’s not legally enforceable)? Seriously?

                • James

                  Thanks r0b 🙂

                • lprent

                  [Done, but deleting the parent to this comment moved this comment out of the “reply” sequence. — r0b]

                  Yeah, it is a problem with this tiered mode, also screws up the numbering. It is usually simpler to zap the message contents (even if you have to fetch it back out of the trash).

                  Update: fixed…

        • IrishBill 9.1.1.2

          It is hyperbole. If the exceptionally low probability scenarios such as yours were enough to make or break a deal in a film company’s risk assessment then no productions would ever occur.

          Yes you trust the union will act in good faith. More importantly you trust that the individual stars who have provided the union with leverage and the members who direct the union will act in good faith. Just as these parties trust that producers won’t decide to breach every single contract and then fight it out in court (a scenario just as unlikely as yours). Without trust you can’t do business. Just as you can’t do business if your risk assessment is out of whack.

          And if we’re playing the assumption game I’m going to assume your descent into strawman scenarios means you’ve run out of rational ideas and decided to agree with me.

          • James 9.1.1.2.1

            Dude, those are not straw man scenerios, those are everyday occurances in the film business. I mean, just in the first LOTR film an actor broke his contract and had to be replaced by Viggo Mortenson. If you don’t understand the way the film industry works, well that’s cool. There’s no need to feel stupid, but at least have the guts to admit there’s an area you might not be an expert on.

            “It is hyperbole. If the exceptionally low probability scenarios such as yours were enough to make or break a deal in a film company’s risk assessment then no productions would ever occur.”

            The difference is that outside NZ, Actor’s Unions sign legally enforceable collective agreements. That’s the whole point I’m making. Here, they can’t legally do that. And until people get that fact through their skulls this boycott is nothing but destructive.

            But look, it’s not whether I trust them to act in good faith. It’s the people deciding whether the film will be in New Zealand or not. At the end of the day that ain’t me or Peter Jackson. It’s the bean counters at the studios. And like I say: good luck convincing them your legal solution is unworkable.

            And just for the record, the only comment that we’ve had from any of the A-list actors (Sir Ian McKellan) he doesn’t even seem to know the boycott is happening. Or at least if he does he’s sure not vocally supporting it. Google it for yourself.

            Okay, that’s all I can say. I’m retiring from this thing now. The personal insults get tiring pretty quickly, particularly to hear them from an admin. And to be honest, I think it’s safe to say anyone looking back over this forum can see who started the personal attacks first.

            Cheers,
            James

            • James 9.1.1.2.1.1

              May I also just finally add, in regard to this point:

              “But look, it’s not whether I trust them to act in good faith. It’s the people deciding whether the film will be in New Zealand or not. At the end of the day that ain’t me or Peter Jackson. It’s the bean counters at the studios. And like I say: good luck convincing them your legal solution is unworkable.”

              Yes, before anyone says, also the govt can have a say in terms of tax incentives etc. And maybe that negotiation might be on the cards at the moment (I have no idea). But either way, to conclude that somehow Peter Jackson orchestrated this thing in order to collude with the government, and get the MEAA to call a non-sensical boycott action, in order to get these tax breaks… again, I ask: seriously?

              • IrishBill

                But either way, to conclude that somehow Peter Jackson orchestrated this thing in order to collude with the government, and get the MEAA to call a non-sensical boycott action, in order to get these tax breaks… again, I ask: seriously?

                I never said that. That’s a strawman argument

                And individually signed agreements have just as much legal standing as a collective agreement. The risk is the same.

                On the issue of rudeness I’d note that your demanding and patronising tone hasn’t been very helpful here. Perhaps it is best you leave.

                • James

                  “And individually signed agreements have just as much legal standing as a collective agreement. The risk is the same.”

                  Well, I’m sorry you managed to completely fail to understand anything I’ve just tried to patiently explain to you. I can only try. You have my sincere apologies if my attempts to describe the obvious came over as demanding or patronising. Good luck with your future endeavors, I guess, is all I can say.

                  • IrishBill

                    Under New Zealand law a collective agreement can be varied if both parties agree. This often happens if a company hit financial strife and the union agrees to work with it to vary the agreement (9-day fortnight deals on union sites required just such a variation). Industrial action to force a variation is not legal.

                    Bearing this in mind and also bearing in mind the fact that a refusal by a big star to sign a deal would a) not be considered industrial action. And b) could apply pressure on an employer to vary a collective agreement for better terms and conditions, could you please explain how, in your scenario, a collective would offer more protection than the legal fiction of a recommended contract arrangement?

                    • James

                      Okay, cool. Good post. Let’s put down our weapons 🙂

                      First thing is I completely agree with your first paragraph. Now the issue with a collective agreement formed between the union and the hobbit could only be implemented if they were counted as employees. If that were the case then everything you say makes sense. But unfortunately they’re not aiming to be employees, so that’s by-the-by. Anything else would technically be legally unenforceable, but useful as a guide (which I think we both accept). So any kind of variation on that would be entirely legal (ie, if PJ wanted to give a lower individual contract for an actor, or actor’s equity wanted to suddenly demand something higher for an individual contract, for whatever reason, and re-threaten a blacklist of the production)

                      Now, for the second paragraph, I’m not sure what you’re asking. I don’t really have a scenario. I don’t think there’s any kind of workable way out of this in NZ law as it stands.

                    • IrishBill

                      As I understood it your claim was that MGM’s decision makers would not accept a legal fiction (union recommended individual contracts) as doing so would involve more risk than a collective agreement elsewhere.

                      In your scenario the risk is that the union uses a significant casting change as an opportunity to reimpose a boycott and leverage up their terms in the middle of production.

                      You go on to say, again as I understand it, that this extra risk puts NZ at a competitive disadvantage over countries that can offer a collective agreement (whether that’s a collective of contractors or of employees).

                      However under NZ law a collective agreement (which would have to cover workers as employees) offers no greater protection from such an act of bad faith than union-recommended contracts would because an individual overseas actor’s boycott would not be considered industrial action under law and thus such a boycott could be used to impose a collective agreement variation on the employer.

                      Therefore there is no greater protection offered to the employer by a collective agreement than there is from an advised stock contract.

                      However, the risk to the producers from such an act of bad faith is, in both cases, extremely small as it would require the connivance of both the newly cast actor and the members of the union – a degree of widespread unreasonableness that would be staggering. I suspect that much greater risks are posed by more mundane things like currency fluctuations or weather risks to outdoor shooting.

                      Put simply, the hobbit is not going to stay or go on the basis of a minuscule risk posed by contracts facilitated by a legal fiction.

  10. prism 10

    Reading Gordon Campbell is like chewing dark chocolate flavoured with liqueur, his stuff is rich with facts, opinions seem to be very informed, lots of information – needs to be read slowly there is so much to take in. Delicious. Bit different than Paul Henry’s howling out in the back yard of TVNZ. “Will someone see what’s wrong with that dog?”.

    • James 10.1

      So how did you feel about the bit where he says:

      ‘Even so, a lot of the emotion needs to be taken out of the issue. The rhetoric of New Zealand “losing” The Hobbit has always been overheated. All along, what we have stood to lose was only the location shoot.’

      So… all the actor’s work then? Great.

  11. James 11

    “Put simply, the hobbit is not going to stay or go on the basis of a minuscule risk posed by contracts facilitated by a legal fiction.”

    Okay, I’m gonna have to take your word on the legal issues there, and it seems like you’re making some interesting technical points. I guess whether another boycott would be considered industrial action or not would be hard to pin down. Certainly, it ‘feels’ like industrial action to me, but whether it falls under the various technicalities of the law is out of my level of knowledge. The whole system is so different from the bargaining cycles overseas as I understand them, where unions actively negotiate collective contracts, the issues of what constitutes the ability to break a collective or no collective agreement in NZ make the whole thing difficult. Personally, I strongly suspect the Studios will have a horrible time accepting the fluidity of getting around what is ususally a relatively simple and straightforward system. Or at least, another complex system that they’re at least used to, and are compfortable working in.

    I’d expect that at the end of the day, the studios are probably going to have to forget about trying to make this work in NZ law, and come to some arrangements with the global unions to figure this thing out legally themselves, and it probably won’t directly involve Actor’s Equity anyway – though ultimately they’ll wind up getting offered MEAA/SAG rates as a result. Which is actually more than good with me.

    • BLiP 11.1

      The general tone of your comments, to date, has been that the employers are allowed to organise, but the employees cannot. Regardless of the workers’ legal status as independent contractors, there is no reason why those same people cannot form a mutually beneficial organisation. If that were the case, the Employers and Manufacturers, which operates just like a union, only worse, could not exist. Perhaps if you were to consider the idea that there are two equal parties to this dispute, “the studios” and “the workers”, it might help with your understanding. Both parties are required to produce the desired outcome and both should share justly in the proceeds. Just because “the studios” put up the capital doesn’t mean “the workers”, who put up the labour, are of less value in the equation. It seems to me you are favouring those with the money over those who actually spill the blood, sweat and tears. Its about respect.

    • IrishBill 11.2

      A boycott by an individual would not be considered industrial action in NZ. Employment law is no easier in most other countries. In the States, for example, industrial action is less proscribed than it is here which is a result of their generally more liberalised labour law. I have no idea what you mean by “bargaining cycles.”

  12. James 12

    *Sigh*

    Okay, well that’s cool, you guys keep arguing your point. I was under the impression people here might try to actually understand other people’s points before making their own. Apparently, that’s not the case.

    But that’s cool, I don’t have the time to bother with it. Ta-ra.

    • The Voice of Reason 12.1

      James, I think the difficulty IB and others have had with your point of view is that it seems based on the incorrect assumption that groups of contractors cannot have set conditions that apply to them all. It’s not only legal, it’s the basis most franchises work, the way courier drivers are contracted, the way TV presenters are hired and on and on and on. Jackson is using a spurious and cursory reading of contractual law as a fig leave to hide behind and when the deal is done, it will turn out that it’s OK after all.

  13. James 13

    Look at AE’s own legal advice on their own website and you’ll see that you’re wrong. Which is exactly the same as the crown law office, and every other lawyer that’s weighed in. You can have set conditions but they’re not legally enforceable. That’s the whole point I’m making.

    Oh gawd… just as I try to get out… they drag me back in.

    Okay, that’s it, I’m removing this from my shortcuts list.

    • IrishBill 13.1

      They’re not legally enforceable by the union because the union isn’t a party to them. They are however legal enforceable as individual legal contracts which have been offered by Jackson on the advice of the union and accepted by individual contractors on the advice of the union. It’s effectively collective bargaining by legal fiction.

      I’m baffled as to why you would consider a contract between the producers and an independent contractor as having no legal standing.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Quarantine-free travel with Australia to remain suspended for a further 8 weeks
    Suspension to be reviewed again mid to late November Decision brought forward to enable access from Australia to first tranche of around 3000 rooms in MIQ Air New Zealand working at pace to put on more flights from Australia from October    The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) with Australia has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Extra support for Ethnic Communities to share vaccination information
    Extra support is being made available to Ethnic Communities to help them share COVID-19 vaccination information within their communities, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan said. “We know we need to get every eligible person in New Zealand vaccinated. A fund being launched today will allow for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • School holidays remain unchanged for Auckland region
    School holidays in Auckland will continue to be held at the same time as the rest of the country, starting from Saturday, 2 October, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “I’ve carefully considered advice on the implications of shifting the dates and concluded that on balance, maintaining the status quo ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Government continues crackdown on gangs and organised crime
    Operation Tauwhiro extended until March 2022 Since it was launched in February, Operation Tauwhiro has resulted in:   987 firearms seized $4.99 million in cash seized 865 people charged with a firearms-related offence Gangs and organised crime groups will continue to be relentlessly targeted with the extension of Police’s successful ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Speech to Body Positive 'HIV Treatments Update Seminar 2021'
    E ngā mana E ngā reo E ngā iwi Tēnā koutou katoa Ka huri ki ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēnā koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I te kaupapa o te rā. Nō reira tēnā koutou katoa Acknowledgements It’s a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • NZ economy’s strong momentum will support rebound from Delta outbreak; COVID fund replenished
    The economy showed strong momentum in the period leading up to the recent Delta COVID-19 outbreak, which bodes well for a solid economic rebound, Grant Robertson said. GDP rose 2.8 percent in the June quarter, following on from a 1.4 percent increase in the previous March quarter. This was a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Projects create benefits into the future
    Making a well-known lake swimmable and helping to halt the decline of the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins are among a suite of new projects being supported by the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme across the southern South Island, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “It’s no secret that many of our most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Opening statement for Whāriki Indigenous Small Business Roundtable
      Kei ngā tōpito e wha o te āo e rere ana te mihi maioha ki a koutou nō tawhiti, nō tata mai e tāpiri ana ki tēnei taumata kōrero mo te ao hokohoko arā mā ngā pākihi mo ngā iwi taketake Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa – Pai Mārire.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New members appointed to Kāpuia
    The Government is adding four additional members to Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques. “I’m looking forward to having Pamela MacNeill, Huia Bramley, Melani Anae and Katherine Dedo  join Kāpuia and contribute to this group’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Timeline confirmed for Emissions Reductions Plan
    Cabinet has agreed to begin consulting on the Emissions Reduction Plan in early October and require that the final plan be released by the end of May next year in line with the 2022 Budget, the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw confirmed today. “Cabinet’s decision allows organisations and communities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pay parity pathway for early learning teachers confirmed
    Pay parity conditions and higher funding rates for education and care services will come into force on 1 January, 2022, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government signalled this work in Budget 2021. “From 1 January, 2022, centres opting into the scheme will receive government funding and be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Conference 2021
    Kia Ora tatau katoa.   Ka tuku mihi ki nga nēhi, He pou Hauora o Aotearoa, E ora ai tatou.   Whakatau mai  I runga i te kaupapa o te ra Te NZNO conference.   Tena koutou tena koutou Tena tatou katoa   Good morning, and thank you inviting me ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government investment in farmer-led catchment groups sweeps past 150 mark
    171 catchment groups have now been invested in by the Government 31 catchment groups in the Lower North Island are receiving new support More than 5,000 farmers are focussed on restoring freshwater within a generation through involvement in catchment groups  Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Fight to protect kauri on track
    The Government is pitching in to help vital work to protect nationally significant kauri forests in Auckland, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. “Ensuring the survival of these iconic trees for future generations means doing everything we can to prevent the potential spread of kauri dieback disease,” Kiri Allan said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Joint statement of Mr Bernard Monk; Hon Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry,...
    [Note: The Parties have agreed on terms to fully and finally settle the proceeding and will jointly issue the below statement.] At the heart of this litigation are the lives of the 29 men tragically lost at the Pike River mine on 19 November 2010 and to whom we pay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More financial support for businesses
    Today’s decision to keep Auckland in a higher COVID Alert Level triggers a third round of the Wage Subsidy Scheme which will open for applications at 9am this Friday. “The revenue test period for this payment will be the 14th to the 27th of September. A reminder that this is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand provides further humanitarian support for Afghanistan
    Aotearoa New Zealand is providing a further $3 million in humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  “There is significant humanitarian need in Afghanistan, with the crisis disproportionately affecting women and girls,” said Nanaia Mahuta. The UN has estimated that 80% of the quarter of a million ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Innovative te reo prediction tool announced in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
    A new Māori language prediction tool will play a key role in tracking our te reo Māori revitalisation efforts, Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. He Ara Poutama mō te reo Māori (He Ara Poutama) can forecast the number of conversational and fluent speakers of te reo Māori ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Further Government support for people to access food and essential items
    The Government is responding to need for support in Auckland and has committed a further $10 million to help people access ongoing food and other essential items, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today. This latest tranche is targeted at the Auckland region, helping providers and organisations to distribute ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Half a million Pfizer vaccines from Denmark
    The Government has secured an extra half a million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from Denmark that will start arriving in New Zealand within days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “This is the second and larger agreement the Government has entered into to purchase additional vaccines to meet the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Inland Revenue providing essential COVID support for businesses
    Inland Revenue is seeing increased demand for Resurgence Support Payments and other assistance schemes that it administers, but is processing applications quickly, Revenue Minister David Parker said today. David Parker said the Resurgence Support Payment, the Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme and the Wage Subsidy are available at the same ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand marks 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
    New Zealand is expressing unity with all victims, families and loved ones affected by the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, and all terrorist attacks around the world since, including in New Zealand. “Saturday marks twenty years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to SPREP Environment Ministers
    Talofa Honourable Ulu of Tokelau Faipule Kelihiano Kalolo Tēnā koutou katoa and warm Pacific greetings from Aotearoa to your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. The new science released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 August paints an alarming picture of the projected impacts of climate change on the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional Resurgence Support Payments to support business
    Businesses affected by higher Alert Levels will be able to apply for further Resurgence Support Payments (RSP). “The Government’s RSP was initially intended as a one-off payment to help businesses with their fixed costs, such as rent. Ministers have agreed to provide additional payments to recognise the effects of an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More Dawn Raids scholarships announced
    Details of the ‘Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Training Scholarships’, a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s, were released today by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio. “These scholarships that are targeted to the Pacific will support the kaupapa of the Dawn Raids’ ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • One-way quarantine-free travel for RSE workers starting in October
      One-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu starts in October New requirement for RSE workers to have received their first vaccination pre-departure, undertake Day 0 and Day 5 tests, and complete a self-isolation period of seven days, pending a negative Day 5 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt boosts Pacific suicide prevention support
    Applications have opened for the Pacific Suicide Prevention Community Fund as the Government acts to boost support amid the COVID delta outbreak. “We know strong and connected families and communities are the most important protective factor against suicide and this $900,000 fund will help to support this work,” Health Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt parks the expiry of licenses, WoFs and regos
    As a result of the Delta outbreak, driver licences, Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licences (‘regos’) and licence endorsements that expired on or after 21 July 2021 will be valid until 30 November 2021, Transport Minister Michael Wood has announced today. “While this extension won’t officially ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 community fund to provide support for vulnerable women and girls
    Minister for Women Jan Tinetti today announced a $2 million community fund that will provide support for women and girls adversely affected by COVID-19. “We know that women, particularly those who are already vulnerable, are disproportionally affected by the kind of economic disruption caused by COVID-19,” Jan Tinetti said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Next phase of support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response announced
    A further NZ$12 million of support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response has been announced by Foreign Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today. The package builds on previous tranches of assistance Aotearoa New Zealand has provided to Fiji, totalling over NZ$50 million. “Fiji remains in a very challenging position in their response to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Robotic asparagus harvester aimed at addressing industry challenges
    The Government is backing a $5 million project to develop a commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing $2.6 million to the project. Project partner Robotics Plus Limited (RPL) will build on a prototype asparagus ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional Pfizer vaccines to arrive tomorrow
    More than a quarter of a million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine are on their way from Spain to New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. The additional doses will arrive in Auckland on Friday morning to help meet the current surge in demand for vaccination. “It’s been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Young people to have their voices heard in Youth Parliament 2022
    The dates and details for Youth Parliament 2022 have been announced today by Minister for Youth Priyanca Radhakrishnan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Youth Parliament is an opportunity for 141 young people from across Aotearoa New Zealand to experience the political process and learn how government works. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Boosting support for tertiary students affected by COVID-19
    Students facing a hard time as a result of COVID-19 restrictions will continue to be supported,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government is putting a further $20 million into the Hardship Fund for Learners, which will help around 15,000 students to stay connected to their studies and learning. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Immediate relief available for Māori and iwi organisations
    The Government has reprioritised up to $5 million to provide immediate relief to vulnerable whānau Māori and communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. The COVID-19 2021 Whānau Recovery Fund will support community-driven, local responses to gaps in access and provision of critical ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New beef genetics programme to deliver cows with smaller environmental hoof-print
    The Government is backing a genetics programme to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. Informing New Zealand Beef is a seven-year partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand that is expected to result in more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Appointments to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced new appointments to the board of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Former Associate Minister of Education, Hon Tracey Martin, has been appointed as the new Chair for NZQA, replacing the outgoing Acting and Deputy Chair Professor Neil Quigley after an 11-year tenure on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt supports residential house building by allowing manufacture of building supplies
    The Government has agreed to allow some building product manufacturing to take place in Auckland during Covid lockdown to support continued residential construction activity across New Zealand. “There are supply chain issues that arise from Alert Level 4 as building products that are manufactured domestically are mostly manufactured in Auckland. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government invests in scientific research to boost economy, address climate change and enhance wellb...
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods has today announced the recipients of this year’s Endeavour Fund to help tackle the big issues that New Zealanders care about, like boosting economic performance, climate change, transport infrastructure and wellbeing. In total, 69 new scientific research projects were awarded over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Transport to drive economic recovery
    The Government is investing a record amount in transport services and infrastructure to get New Zealand moving, reduce emissions and support the economic recovery, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. The 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) was released today which outlines the planned investments Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago