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Extremist NZ Actors Equity demands outrageous fortune

Written By: - Date published: 8:24 am, October 3rd, 2010 - 17 comments
Categories: boycott, film, Media, tv, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

Wondering who Actors’ Equity are and what they do? Well here’s a video from AE explaining just that.

Actors’ Equity also have a good website that lays out their position in Peter Jackson’s Das Hobbitski fiasco.

It’s been funny watching the msm contort itself while struggling with its rarely conflicting predilections for both celebrities and marginalizing unions – leading the Herald to publish its coverage in the Entertainment section :lol:. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t always pay to rely on the msm to represent unions with accuracy and balance, so best get it from the horse’s mouth.

17 comments on “Extremist NZ Actors Equity demands outrageous fortune ”

  1. Nick K 1

    I prefer Jackson to some union boofhead.

    Anyway, cast and crew are independent contractors so all of this is horseshit.

    • The Voice of Reason 1.1

      Only because the producers prefer it that way, Nick, and are happy to bully workers to keep it that way. It gives them total control over the workforce and removes fairness, representation and minimum standards. Independant contractors are a legal fiction; they remain workers no matter what bullshit the bosses use to cover the exploitation.

    • bbfloyd 1.2

      A good way to identify a “boofhead” is by their use of name calling, and unnecessary use of expletive. usually a sign of a truncated vocabulary… sound familiar you …… person!

    • Marty G 1.3

      The whole point, Nick K, is that the independent contractor system is being abused to undermine pay and conditions. It’s not necessary that they be independent contractors and it’s possible to agree minimum pay and conditions even if they are.

      • Joe Bloggs 1.3.1

        Bullshit – the independent contractor system offers sigjnificant tax advantages over paid employment, and offers significant premiums over pay rates for equivalent roles in USA

        • pollywog

          werd…i had my own company contracting services to the entertainment industry and found i’d rather be a self employed freelancer than an employee.

          I did the employee thing and guess what ?…I got released when my short term contract ran out anyway….

          …well within 90 days too

  2. Nick K 2

    How can actors be an employee of Jackson’s production company, or one in the States? They go from job to job, from production company to production company. NZ only has two decent production companies – SPP and Greenstone. They *employ* actors for long term a series, but for movies it is a practical impossibility for the actors, and the crew, to be employees.

    • IrishBill 2.1

      Why is it impossible to employ people on a fixed-term basis? Building companies do it for big one-off projects, freezing works do it for seasonal peaks, oil companies do it for rig work, lots of businesses will be doing it during the rugby world cup and just about every type of employer has to do it occasionally to cover for maternity leave.

      What, exactly, is it about film companies that makes it so hard for them?

      • felix 2.1.1

        Some building companies do, but the “independent contractor” scam is rife throughout the building industry too.

        Not that this detracts from your point, just sayin is all…

        • IrishBill

          Tell me about it. It’s a scam that had been getting traction across a lot of industries for some time now and one that may need some kind of a law change. That would be hard to do without catching legitimate contractors in the same net.

          One way that might work would be to change the legal onus of proof of employment to make it the employer’s responsibility to prove the relationship is contractual rather than an employment relationship. Currently the onus is on the contractor/employee to prove that they are an employee and this is generally an expensive legal exercise.

          Such legislation would make film workers fixed-term employees by default but also allow them to be contractors if they wished. If producers thought they could make a case for them being independent contractors they could take it to the ERA.

          Of course such a law would still allow producers to pressure individual workers to opt-out but it would also allow them to organise collectively to push back rather than the current situation in which they start from a position of significant weakness.

          Alternatively the commerce act could be changed to allow single employee contractors the same rights to negotiate collectively that employees’ enjoy but I think that altering the employment relations act would be the better answer as it would fit better with the intent and the current provisions of that legislation.

          However I’m not big city lawyer and I would be very interested to know what the full legal ramifications of this sort of law change would be. Particularly in terms of unintended consequences. Hmm, perhaps I should post on it.

          • Swampy

            Hmm, and let me guess, the main reason we want such a law is to increase union membership, coverage, etc.

            • IrishBill

              No the main reason we would want such a law would be to ensure people who were employees were covered by employment law. I doubt it would make a significant difference to union membership figures.

  3. ZeeBop 3

    Lose the Hobbit to E.Europe!

    Oh, think about it.

    Does Peter Jackson want to live in Australia?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Live in Australia? Where the actors have a stronger union than here, and there are more actors covered by the US SAG contracts?

      I thought we were supposed to be catching up with Australia.

      • felix 3.1.1

        Apparently according to the Key/Hide government the way to catch up to Australia (whatever the fuck that actually means) is to do the opposite of everything the Aussies do.

  4. Bruce 4

    If these workers want a group contract setting minimum conditions in writing (and have the opportunity to negotiate individually above those minimum conditions), then they should be able to do so. The producers, National and their mouthpieces have no right to tell them they can’t in their quest for “flexibility”. Let Jackson go overseas.

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