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Helen Kelly on the Hobbit dispute

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 pm, April 12th, 2011 - 66 comments
Categories: capitalism - Tags:

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Helen Kelly has published an extremely thorough account of the Hobbit dispute over at scoop.

It is extremely unusual to have such a detailed public documentation of an industrial dispute but then again it was an extremely unusual dispute – it’s not often an employer disregards a settled deal to continue a dispute and it’s not often the government steps in so completely on the side of an employer.

I’ve published most of the conclusion below but I highly recommend you read the full story. It paints an unpleasant picture of the relationship between capital and labour in twenty-first century New Zealand and of just which side this government sits with.

I have written this detailed (and rather long) record of events first because it is important to have a union record on this dispute but also because this dispute has become the subject of a number of academic publications. Having a clear set of facts on which these can be based is rather important.

But the response to the Hobbit dispute underlies a fundamental problem with the “jobs” narrative that is being driven up by the right wing in this country and used to hammer any worker who might want to have a voice in the economy or world of work. The narrative is largely unchallenged and is holding us back in many areas and is part of the growing corporate dominance over of our society and community.

Basically the story runs like this – and I am simplifying it. Work is a benefit, business is the benefactor and workers are merely the beneficiaries. Workers should be grateful for a job; a job is a privilege; employers should be lauded for the contribution they make to growing economic wealth. This narrative not only devalues the contribution of labour and fails to recognise the exchange of labour for wages that is taking place, but it also provides the justification for the removal of work rights, insufficient pay rates, government subsidies to business and the like. It paints anyone who joins or seeks to organise a union as disloyal, a wrecker or an ingrate, throwing charity back in the face of the giver.

It paints the union as an outsider, an interferer in a relationship based on charity. The employer is to be revered – deference is the name of the game. Employers have bought into this narrative and you hear it regularly in the commentary of their advocacy groups. It is also used here and internationally to justify unsatisfactory and unfair trade arrangement, environmental degradation etc. It is being resisted but is overpowering in many situations. It is similar to the so-called ‘trickle down’ approach – where, if everything is done to make business profitable, the benefits will flow down to the deserving poor. We saw that in the 1990s – but the benefits only trickled up.

The Hobbit dispute is simply an example Actors were portrayed as ungrateful, biting the hand that feeds them, contributing nothing compared to the great Warners that were donating 2000 jobs to the economy. The beneficiaries were ungrateful. No discussion on rights was possible. Absolute deference was to be shown to business and this employer regardless of any other possible approach (e.g. that they should be expected to negotiate with performers here, as they do all over the world). The union was demonised and a change to employment law, at the request of Warners, was New Zealand’s way of apologising for some of our citizens’ bad behaviour.

66 comments on “Helen Kelly on the Hobbit dispute ”

  1. Drakula 1

    At the time of this dispute I was asking myself ‘do we really need Warners THAT BADLY’?

    It seemed to be the prevailing corporate ethos that rather undermines our reputation of the No8 wire inginuity and autonomy in the film industry.

    And the government were acting like comprodore agents 100% for the foreign investor!!!!!

  2. Anne 2

    It was truly a disgraceful episode in our industrial history. What happened to the Breach of Privilege case Trevor Mallard initiated re-Gerry Brownlee’s attempt to mislead the House over the issue?  

  3. Deadly_NZ 3

    And this may sound like sacrilege But i have seen NONE of the hobbit movies and I have NO desire to ever.  And now I am paying for a movie I have no interest in at all.   typical

  4. Nick K 4

    Deadly_NZ – I have no interest in the RWC but Auntie Helen made me pay for it.  Ditto Americas Cup.

    • Marty G 4.1

      you must be fucken fuming about the nearly three billion in corporate bailouts from Key and co then. It makes the less than $100m combined for RWC and America’s Cup look like, what was that term Key used to describe $100m the other day? oh yeah: chump change.

  5. I haven’t read the whole thing yet but that’s some damn powerful writing in the two pars starting “Basically the story runs like this…”
    Helen, if you ever feel like writing something about other issues that come up, we’re happy to publish it, as I’m sure others are too.

    • I have read the whole thing. As well as the paragraphs above, how about this in explanation for why it was beholden on the CTU to become involved?

      it is our fundamental belief in the rights of workers to bargain that meant we [the CTU] had an absolute obligation to provide any support [to Equity] we could against this unfair attack. When we stop believing in that, for our own reputation and relief, we will fail in our function as the summit and leader of the union movement in New Zealand. When workers are under this sort of attack, the union movement will take on anyone and we will not bow to the deference with which some parties think employers should be held in this country if that means workers will be denied their rights.”

      Pure gold. Her analysis is detailed, articulate, closely reasoned and damning.

      Can anyone persuade her to get into parliament?

      • Jim Nald 5.1.1

        Helen Kelly has earned my respect.
        We need more people with her integrity.
        It’s clear where she stands.
         
        Helen Kelly: working bros
        National Party: Warner Bros
         
        Shame on you, Nats.
         

    • Jum 5.2

      Marty G,
      Yep.

  6. JohnDee 6

    Must say i was impressed with Helen Kelly on Q & A last Sunday.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Worship of the rich has been normal fare of our culture for some time now and it’s just getting worse. Read pretty much any fiction and it’s the rich that are the heroes, the special people who deserve to be rich. It’s like that in fiction and on the news. Point out that they (the rich) are not all that special and are, as a matter of fact, a bunch of thieves and get told that you’re jealous and envious of them and that you should really be bowing down and kissing their arse.
     
    We need to change the story.

  8. Hilary 8

    It would be great if Paul Holmes read this, realised his disgraceful attack on Helen on Q and A was wrong, and apologised to her.

    • aj 8.1

      I’d imagine there is a backstory to Helen Kelly appearing with Paul Holmes.

    • Marty G 8.2

      I don’t think that anyone seriously believes that Paul Holmes can read.

      • Jim Nald 8.2.1

        A couple of Sundays ago when I saw him on Q&A, it seemed like he was frothing.
         
        Viewed the recent Q&A and he seemed a bit sedate. Was he tasered before the cameras rolled?

        • Bunji 8.2.1.1

          I think that might have had to do with the recent complaint finding against him.  Was a great finding, everything the complainants said was found to be true, that Holmes was biased, and
          “As the interview progressed, the host became unnecessarily aggressive and displayed active contempt towards Ms Kelly’s position. This was in stark contrast to the non-confrontational and respectful manner with which he interviewed Mr Barnett.
          Before dismissing the complaints on the grounds that Holmes was allowed to be a biased, contemptuous, aggressive so-and-so, and that Helen Kelly could cope with it.  
          But that was hardly what Q&A want to be known for, so I imagine he got more than a flea in his ear…

          • Deadly_NZ 8.2.1.1.1

            Yeah it looked like everytime he went to say something there was a voice in his ear saying Shut up, shut up, don’t move, shut up, be nice Or the voice saying shut up or your fired.

    • Vicky32 8.3

      Sadly, Hilary, I can’t see that ever happening…

  9. Bazar 9

    I’d love to see the other side of the story in regards to this. Still, I’ll point out interesting parts of this.

    “The Equity board agreed that it would wait for an international production with unionised workers from abroad to re-launch its campaign.”

    Read: Equity decided to wait and ambush the next international production.

    “The FIA agreed that unless Equity could make progress on bargaining with the production company making the Hobbit (Warners), then it would call on performers to show international solidarity and advise members to hold off signing on to the film until a negotiation was agreed upon.”

    Read: FIA agreed by request, to blacklist the hobbit first, before negotiations had started. Let’s not forget, they wanted a union contract not a guideline.

    “The facts show otherwise. Warners had sent a legal letter refusing to bargain before the actors unions advised members not to sign.”

    No citation provided. I’m not going to believe that at face value till i see some proof. It was also illegal to negotate a contract with Equity at that time, as covered later

    “On 17 August FIA contacted Warners to say it wanted to negotiate terms and conditions collectively. In its letter, the FIA notified Warners that it had passed the remit”

    Not accurate. FIA said they were blacklisting because Equity wasn’t being negotiated with

    “Warners were unwilling to negotiate and…”

    Unwilling, unable, or just bending the truth. No letters have been provided. No citation.

    “The refusal to bargain letter sent on 13 September on behalf of Warners was from lawyer Deborah Fox [xiv] . No reference is made in this letter to a “boycott” even though it was in response to the 17 August FIA letter. Her letter is, in our view, wrong in law and relied wrongly on the Commerce Act.”

    Crown law, and the Warner’s lawers both agree that it was illegal to enter into negotiations. But hey, they are just lawyers what do they know about law.

    Heres the link involving crown law’s legal opinion.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10677077

    And because its so central to their negotiations, i’ll even give the relevant quote for lazy people:

    “Yesterday, Mr Finlayson said in a letter to the studios – which was also copied to Sir Peter and Ward-Lealand – that legal advice from the Crown Law Office confirmed the Commerce Act prevented The Hobbit’s producers “from entering into a union-negotiated agreement with performers who are independent contractors”. Section 30 of the act, which deals with price fixing, “effectively prohibits” such arrangements, he said.”

    Their take of the matter:

    “Following this, Equity got legal advice [set out in a letter of 17 September from Simpson Grierson]. This advice pointed out a number of elements of the Commerce Act that would allow collective bargaining of standard contracts to be offered to performers.”

    Reading the actual letter they got. There was one way to avoid it being illegal, make the actors employees. But that’s not a possibility; it’d incur so much taxation it’d never happen.

    There were also “…two possible exceptions that may apply…”
    What they were asking was illegal, and although they care to disagree, it’s obvious that anyone stupid enough to attempt it was opening themselves to legal litigation.

    “All of these opinions considered what performers could do in relation to the Commerce Act; none considered what Unions can do under the Trade Union Act 1908. It is the CTU view that the Trade Unions Act allows workers (broader than just employees) to negotiate terms and conditions collectively without being found in restraint of trade or criminally liable (i.e. an exception to the Commerce Act).”

    Again, what we say vs what the law says.

    “Regardless, none of these legal issues was ever an impediment to the parties meeting and discussing this point. For example, a “Pink Book” for Hobbit performers could have been one of the outcomes – presumably a form that is safe under the Commerce Act.”

    HAHAHAHAHA. That’s rich. I’ll quote what frustrated the Actors Equity when dealing with outrageous fortune.

    “The association’s response was to offer to renegotiate The Pink Book – and to maintain that document’s status as a guideline only. This was unacceptable to Equity and its members.”

    So because they found it so unacceptable, they decided to play hard-ball with the next international production. And now she turns around and says that regardless of what the law said, at least they could of renegotiated the pink-book, when its obvious to anyone that they’d never settle for guidelines, but were after a union contract

    I’d love to go on, but i need to get some sleep and i’m only a 1/3rd through the article.

    • chris73 9.1

      Always good to hear the other side of the story

    • IrishBill 9.2

      Crown law, and the Warner’s lawers both agree that it was illegal to enter into negotiations. But hey, they are just lawyers what do they know about law

      The full opinion hasn’t been released despite an OIA request for it and it being shown to Warners. I’d not place too much value on it if I were you – when it finally turns up I don’t think it’ll say what you think it does.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1

        I’m sure it’ll say the exact opposite and that’s why it wasn’t released.

    • Pete 9.3

      The letter from Deborah Fox is the refusal by Warners to negotiate. The missing reference you need to become a believer. Mentioned in your own post!

    • Pete 9.4

      The letter you refer to from Fox is on behalf of Warners. Refusing to bargain. Does that now make you a true believer?

      • Bazar 9.4.1

        Can you show me the contents of the letter[s] sent and received from fox and warners showing the inital responce?
        If not, then all i have to go by is her word, which i don’t trust. Which is resonable.
        They put no description into why warners refused them either. Perhaps warners didn’t take them seriously, perhaps they did but their lawyer advised it as illegal, perhaps they were told they’d need to meet some conditions like become an NZ union.
        I can read very little into that as a result. Other then the fact that warners refused, but on what grounds or reasoning remains a mistery.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.5

      at least they could of renegotiated the pink-book,

      You RWNJs really do have a problem with comprehension don’t you? That’s not what she said. What she said was that a set of minimum conditions could be negotiated which could be used as a starting point in individual negotiations with contractors.

      • Bazar 9.5.1

        Ah yes, name calling off the bat. Such a mature responce. I’ll let it side this once and respond.
        “What she said was that a set of minimum conditions could be negotiated which could be used as a starting point in individual negotiations with contractors”
        Then that’s illegal. Thats entering into a collective agreement, which is again, wait for it, ILLEGAL
        It’d either be a non-binding guideline, or an illegal request for a standard.
        It’d either be something Equity didn’t want or care for, or an illegal request

        [lprent: That was well within the bounds of ‘robust debate’. Read the policy. The moderators set the bounds of acceptable behavior – you don’t. Don’t waste my time looking at trivialities because you’re too lazy to read the bounds.

        • Daveo 9.5.1.1

          “Illegal”? Nope. In New Zealand grown-ups are free to negotiate a minimum standard if they want. Which means if Peter Jackson wants to guarantee a minimum standard contract he can. Only a Communist would claim otherwise. Are you a communist bazar?

          • Bazar 9.5.1.1.1

            Are you a lawyer Daveo? If not, don’t pretend you know better when theres contradicting evidicence from two other lawyer departments. And even the MPAA’s lawyer didn’t contrict them, only said there “may” be a “possibility” of a loophole.
            Also this isn’t about setting a minimum standard for a single contractor, which is what i think your getting misunuderstood on. Thats always been allowed and is the case.
            This is about setting a collective contract, thats a different matter as it affects the rights of group of people, and we have law in place for such cases. I also think you’ll find that once a collective contract is agreeed to, union members won’t be able to fully negotiate their own contracts any longer. But i’m not a lawyer so i could be wrong on that.
             
            I’ll add for lprent: I won’t respond to any other thread by Draco that opens with such an abusive tone. I didn’t mean to suggest that i’d moderate Draco for being rude, although i think a warm suggestion he be nicer would be an improvement.
            Mutual respect is a nice thing to work from, not “lolz u RWJN’s r so stupid derp”.

            • daveo 9.5.1.1.1.1

              Actually I’ve a little bit of experience with contract law. And I can tell you it is possible to have a “collective” contract that doesn’t breach cartel law as long as there is some kind of legal fiction employed. I’d imagine that the advice Kensington Swan gave Actors Equity concerned such a loophole.

              It’s possible, for instance, to set a minimum standard contract and still allow individual negotiations above that minimum.

              By way of example, the basic generic contracts offered for franchised businesses don’t preclude franchisees negotiating with franchisers.

              Like any contractual agreement there are few limitations to what can be done except legal minimums (you can’t for example contract with a minor or for a crime) and/or any prior standing contract that cuts across it.

              I could engage you on a contract that carried a clause stating I would not engage someone else in the same capacity on lower terms than our arrangement; with some kind of zero/sum penalty clause. The deal I struck with you would effectively become a minimum standard.

              Of course for me to strike a deal like that you would need leverage. That’s what the Hobbit dispute was, and any business transaction is, about: leverage. It’s exceptionally naive of you to think there is some higher truth represented by The Law that discounts that.

        • Puddleglum 9.5.1.2

          Bazar,

          I think you might be confused about the difference between legal advice (in this case from the Crown Law Office) that something is illegal and something actually being illegal.

          If legal advice is all that matters, then the legal advice the CTU received presumably shows that – in your emphatic terms – it would be LEGAL.

          Or, perhaps you think that the Crown Law Office has the final say on legality (as opposed to the courts)? The advice from that office has been challenged in the past. Others may know better than me if there have been cases where it’s opinion, when tested in court, has been found to be ‘mistaken’ in law.

          Then there’s the question of just what that advice was in terms of the arguments upon which it rested. The OIA request, if successful, should go some way to answering that question.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.5.1.2.1

            Or, perhaps you think that the Crown Law Office has the final say on legality (as opposed to the courts)?

            Not that we’ve seen the advice from the Crown Law Office as, for some reason, the government is withholding it even from OIA requests.

    • Bazar,

      ““The Equity board agreed that it would wait for an international production with unionised workers from abroad to re-launch its campaign.”
      Read: Equity decided to wait and ambush the next international production.”

      Did you actually read the bit about what happened that led Equity to adopt this strategy? Let’s put your extractedquotation in some context.

      “The first major push on the campaign was on the SPP production of the television series Outrageous Fortune. During the penultimate season performers asked Equity to negotiate a standard contract for the production. SPP told the cast involved in the dispute that they would cancel the final season if the cast did not agree to work on an SPP contract. At the same time SPP refused to negotiate with Equity – saying that any negotiation for a standard agreement in the screen industry must be negotiated with SPADA. The performers ended their campaign. [iv] Equity approached SPADA for a negotiation – the association’s response was to offer to renegotiate The Pink Book – and to maintain that document’s status as a guideline only. This was unacceptable to Equity and its members.
      The next effort was around two locally-made and funded television series. The Cult (produced by Great Southern Film & Television) and This Is Not My Life (produced by GRST). Casts asked producers to negotiate a standard contract with Equity. Producers on both productions said they would re-cast the show in response to the action. The action was stopped. The tactics used by employers in both these disputes have strong parallels with those used in the Hobbit.
      The length production companies would go to in order to avoid bargaining was clear and the response to those three efforts had been very scary for the performers involved. The producers were clearly prepared to engage some of the harshest tactics seen in NZ in order to deny these basic international rights.
      From these experiences, Equity realised that if it were to make progress on its goals, it would need the support of international performers, who are in a stronger bargaining position than NZ performers find themselves and who already enjoy collective conditions of work. The Equity board agreed that it would wait for an international production with unionised workers from abroad to re-launch its campaign.”

      An ‘ambush’ so clearly signalled over three prior disputes and engaged in only once all other courses of action were met with utter bad faith is not the best designed ‘ambush’, is it?

      • Bazar 9.6.1

        It’s an ambush. Warners and wingnut studios have had no dealings with Equity at that point. The only possible exception being this email from warners where they refuse. But without knowing why they refuse its hard to put the blame on them.

        I’d certainlly hope that Equity wasn’t so stupid as to resort to a blacklist over one refused email.
        So the events as i see them, are this
        Warner and Co start up camp in NZ, thinking what a wonderful place this is, and bam. All of a sudden there’s a blacklist on them, and they are told they have to successfully negotiate with Equity for its dismissal.

        Not something resonable like “entered into negotiations”. Oh no, that would be smart. Its “until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement”
        So untill the matter was resolved in its entirity, the blacklist would stay. The exact wording is again, something that was wait for it… Illegal in New Zealand
        Ambush seems like a pretty apt description of their tactic.

        For the record, a blacklist may be been needed at some point, it might of been needed early on, but it was their opening move; That’s pretty hard to justify. It certainly bypasses any concept of good-faith bargaining

        • Daveo 9.6.1.1

          So what they should have done is said to people “we’re trying to negotiate some minimum standards but in the meantime just sign up to what ever they offer”? and then not negotiated until they had nothing to negotiate with? That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.

          • Bazar 9.6.1.1.1

            Bouncing between extremes aren’t you?
            Between blacklisting off the bat, and a total impotence in negotations, i’m sure there are ways a good negotiator could work without being at either extreame, or at least avoiding opening with a blacklist. To me that just shows an inability to negotiate.

            But your free to believe a blacklist off the bat was the only way change would happen, i’ll respectfully disagree

            • Daveo 9.6.1.1.1.1

              Blacklist? Nope. Rather a call to not sign contracts until they were negotiated. Or do you sign your contracts and then try to negotiate them?

              • Bazar

                That assumes that every actor would be under the same contract.
                I think you’ll find that SAG would only want their actors under their contracts, regardless of the outcome with MPAA. I supsect most actors and their unions would as well.
                Someone can correct me if i’m wrong, but this was a dispute about a non-unionised workforce, and attempts to forcefully unionise it and get production studios to conceed to the union demands.
                International Actors and their unions weren’t the problem, yet they were still told not to sign.

                They were used as a tool, but they weren’t involved in the dispute, other then being blacklisted out by their unions.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’ll correct you , you are wrong, this dispute was about Peter Jackson wanting to extract tens of millions of dollars more for his Hollywood masters.
                   
                  The union demands amounted to let’s sit down at the table, that and decent treatment for workers? That would have amounted to a few hundred thousand in extra costs. Peanuts, to do the right thing by workers.
                   
                  But it was used as an excuse to lift a tonne of money from NZ tax payers and gift it to rich corporate types, including “Sir” Peter Jackson.

                  The US, Australia, Canada and UK have very successful screen industries and they are all unionised.

                  Jackson and Warner Bros simply acted to bully the local workforce when they had a chance.

                  You really are an ass for siding with the big corporate players against NZ workers.

                  • Bazar

                    *facepalm*
                    I’d ask if you actually believe everything you wrote, but given your previous posts, you probably do.
                    So please, for future referance, don’t correct me, if thats what you consider correct.

                    This dispute was started before Jackson was involved.
                    The union demands as i’ve stated repeatly were illegal.
                    The affairs of the US, Australia, Canada and the UK are irrelevant.
                    The Actors Equity represents a tiny group of ACTORS. Not the local workforce. Indeed i’d say that it was Actors Equity was bullying the local (and even national) workforce
                    “You really are an ass for siding with the big corporate players against NZ workers.”
                    And how have i “sided” with the big corporate players?
                    Not once have i expelled any virtues of Jackson, the goverment, or Warners in this article. I have not justified any actions that any party took, other then the illegal aspect.

                    I have simply given a different perspective, based on evidence around what was written by Hellen Kelly’s account.
                    I’ve even stated that the blacklist was probably going to be needed at some point.
                    But If your mind can’t handle the truth, and you just want to gloss over and ignore everything that i’ve written, so be it.

                    • RedLogix

                      The union demands as i’ve stated repeatly were illegal.

                      And has been repeatedly explained to you, a legal opinion is not the same as a legal judgement.  This entire area of employment law around the rights of contractors to be represented by a collective agent is not at all as black and white as you are suggesting it is.

                      Such cases always revolve around the specifics of the employment relationship.  The plain fact that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bryson tells you that just calling someone a contractor does not mean they are one.

        • Puddleglum 9.6.1.2

          First, an ‘ambush’ requires an unsuspecting victim, lured into what they believe to be safe territory. I admit I don’t have details on Warner’s past history in New Zealand but I’d be surprised if they have never come across Equity prior to The Hobbit. Irrespective, I’d be equally surprised if Warners (a) didn’t carry out ‘due diligence’ in advance of production in offshore destinations; (b) didn’t ask Peter Jackson or any other industry insider about industrial relations.

          Second, how can someone be ‘ambushed’ into doing what they usually do in most of their business? Standard contracts, as I understand it, are the norm. Now, they may have been assuming/hoping that standards are lower in New Zealand but I doubt whether you become a successful international corporation by crossing your fingers and hoping.

          If I walk into my local dairy and the owner takes me to be as green as a cabbage and so immediately asks me to pay more for an item than others he deals with, but then I say “I’m not as green as I am cabbage looking” and call him on the jacked-up price – most people wouldn’t say I ‘ambushed’ him.

          • Bazar 9.6.1.2.1

            Ambush requires an unsuspecting victim yes…
            You saying that warners were advised that they would be blacklisted apon setting up camp in NZ?

            The only sign of hostilities i suspect they woudl of received would of been a letter (that hasn’t been published as far as i’m aware) from equity asking for (i’m guessing) negotations on a collective contract (illegal).

            They could have received a letter from the FIA warning them that dire recupcussions would follow if MPAA were not taken seriously.
            Instead they chose to ambush them instead with a blacklist untill their demands were met.

            Also while your story isn’t an ambush, a more fitting analogy would be something like:
            “If i walk into my local dairy and the owner has jacked up prices. I buy 40 things and let him tally it up. I then refuse to pay unless he permanently drops the price to something more resonable, preventing him from serving other customers in the process”
             

            • Colonial Viper 9.6.1.2.1.1

              Oh this is so funny, the only AMBUSH here was what Peter Jackson pulled on Equity, on the CTU and on Helen Kelly.
               
              Let’s not lose sight of who the dishonest thieving corporate prats were from the start.

              Love your dairy analogy WTF

              Movies which are made in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in the UK are all unionised, they make great movies, what is wrong with giving NZ workers the same benefits.

              Campaigning against your own citizens Bazar what a star.

              • Bazar

                I’m campaigning for the truth. Something thats very hard to find and confirm with this dispute, from both sides.
                You’re being far from helpful in that regard Viper.

  10. Carol 10

    I was particularly interested in the timing around the delay of the release of the agreement between CTU & Warners, with Brownlee maybe as a kind of intermediary, advisor, or at least kept informed of the progress.  It seems to me there was manipulations that worked more widely in favour of the government undermining a resurgent national union movement. Agreement was reached around the 18th October.  Kelly was expecting Warners to make it public, but couldn’t understand why it was delayed. Here is a significant section, also showing how the government, usually via Brownlee, was also kept in the loop on developments.

    Despite this agreement, Warners held up making the release. MEAA did not feel able to release the information to the media until Warners did (because MEAA had agreed not to), and on the evening of 20 October (at least 3 days after Warners had been notified of the settlement), WETA studios called the Wellington film community to its studios and the now infamous march against the union was organised.
     
    When these emails were shown to media after things died down a bit, Jackson denied having seen them. [xxii] It is clear however that regardless of whether he had actually sighted the emails, he had been consulted about the release and was aware that the dispute was settled and that what he called a “boycott” had been lifted.
     
    The Government was also aware of this and the only group left in the dark was the public! Contact was made with the Minister’s office to seek his advice on whether or not we should simply put out the news and it was the advice of his office that we should not.
    It is also clear from information released late last year under the OIA that, following the settlement in Auckland involving Minister Brownlee, he had contacted Peter Jackson to advise him that the dispute was settled and the “don’t sign” orders would be lifted. Jackson then advised the Minister by email on 18 October (before the rally), [xxiii] that it was not the “boycott” that was influencing Warners to consider moving the film.

    At noon on the 20th October there was the major union Fairness at Work Rally.  At 3pm film workers in Wellington were called to a meeting, where Jackson (at around 5pm) told them the “boycott” was still in place, and The Hobbitt was moving offshore.  An impromptu rally was called for film workers in Wellington that evening.  Then Jackson announced that Warners execs were coming to NZ to arrange to take the movie offshore.

    The next day came the interview on Nine-to-Noon, of Boyens & Walsh. I heard this live. Boyens & Walsh vicuosly attacked Kelly & the CTU for spreading misinformation about the “boycott” being over, and that there was a very real danger of the movie being taken offshore due to the nasty union activities.  It struck me at the time that it was very advantageous for the government, that the union movement was being so vicously smeared, the day after many of us had been on that very successful national union rally.

  11. Tiger Mountain 11

    Like any significant industrial dispute the “Hobbit debacle” will be discussed for years to come. Good to see Helens account which makes a lot of sense.

    I await the response at Public Address, the majority of whose 100s of ‘Hobbit’ posters early in the piece took Lord Jacksons side. Middle class IT, media and cultural contractees dropping their bundle on the basis of alleged timeframes rather than offering solidarity. 

    And to confirm the bias displayed Russell Brown spoke at the SPADA conference on the details of the dispute before the dust had even settled. There was anti actors rhetoric all over the blogosphere of course, but mostly at places where one would expect to find it-KB etc.

    The upshot is the CTU and AE operate in a very difficult environment where support is needed not people putting the slipper in with company resourced “Save the Hobbit” rallies on f***king Labour day! If even qualified support had been offered instead, that would have given some right to offer advice to all those who believed the AE tactics needed revising.

    Well done Helen Kelly.

  12. Bored 12

    I have made my own stand here against the Sainted PJ, Fran and other anti worker pro corporate scumbags. They are now Banned …I will not watch any of their past present or future productions nor pay any moneys that might accrue their way. Their desertion of their own countrymen in favour of fellow rich foreign bastards is beyond comtempt.

  13. TightyRighty 13

    Yawn,.Just like Labour in opposition a union that can’t believe the electorate don’t give a shit that the union believes in the power and justness of it’s own story. 

    The greater good prevailed, as it should with petrobas. we don’t need a minority trying to enforce it’s views on the rest of us with only there self-interest at heart, views which uniquely coincide with making wider New Zealand poorer for their own benefit. 

    And one question, how come all the other workers on the hobbit took action against the boycott by actors equity? they are workers too, and they seem to be against the actions taken by Helen Kelly and the meat puppets Lucy Lawless and Robin Malcolm.

    • Jim Nald 13.1

      Yeah, I feel very happy that John Key’s greater good prevailed along with his friends’. You are right we don’t need a minority of them trying to impose their views and interests on the rest of us. Their machinations uniquely coincided with making wider New Zealand poorer for our own benefit. Poorer in many senses of the word.

    • Bright Red 13.2

      whose greter good prevailed? Warners and Jackson’s?
      Nothing good came of this for me. So much taxpayer money was spent on keeping a film here that was always going to stay here that the economic benefit was erased.
      as for deepsea oil – whose greater good are we talking about? The foreign company that will drill up our oil and sell it or the people who live on the coast, whose environment is at risk?

    • Draco T Bastard 13.3

      TR, the workers aren’t the minority – the rich bastards trying to screw them are.

      • TightyRighty 13.3.1

        In both instances i used as an example, it is a minority viewpoint against that held by the whole country. keep up.

        Tigger, you should read james delingpole in the aussie spectator for the first week of april. he talks about the soft bigotry of low expectations, something i think Helen Kelly, Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm all participate in. And for the record, Meat Puppet is a derogatory term for a television actor who can only act as well as they are directed. Judging by Lucy Lawless’ and Robyn Malcoms performances under their own guidance, I think i have plenty of evidence.

        BR, your side lost. the electorate voted for the interests of business to prevail against the policies of progressive social agendas that achieve nothing. put your big boy pants on and suck up the fact that the movie men outplayed the actors union at what should have been an easy win for the actors. when you consider the actors are on home turf and are well known to nz audiences and being in the media should know how it works, having used it before and won, yet still managed to lose to a faceless corporation at a time in capitalisms history that faceless corporations aren’t really the flavour of the moment. is it because people realise PJ is better for NZ’s future than two meat puppets, when they, if you don’t, consider the thousands of other people he hires outside of the actors ranks? or are you going to blame the MSM media again, for not taking the side you see as right in this argument? the whiny left are getting predictable, combine that with a lack of unity, poof, there goes 2011.

  14. Pete 14

    At bazar. The Fox letter you refer to is on behalf of Warners refusing to bargain.

  15. randal 15

    no matter its all a heap of crap anyway.
    never seen one of Jacksons films and never will.
    he’s never made one where he wrote the sotry himself and his thespians leave me cold.
    and as for all the so called creative workers who demoed against Helen Kelly well they should all go to hollywoood and NEVER come back if they like it so much.
    but you know they would all shrivel up and die under american conditions.
    have a cucumber sandwhich.

  16. prism 16

    Has the cucumber been dipped in vinegar?

  17. randal 17

    nah its just areference to the anemic repeating dross that they serve up and expect ya to like without making up your own mind.

  18. grumpy 18

    Personally I’m waiting for the “How I bought Democracy to Libya” by Muammar Gaddaffi

    • Daveo 18.1

      Really? I’m waiting for “grumpy and all the other right wingnuts suck it up, show some honour for the first time in their lives and admit they were wrong.

      • higherstandard 18.1.1

        Wrong about what ?

        That AE and CTU fucked this up monumentally ?

        That if that wankstain from Australia had just STFU and not gone down the boycott and blacklist route in the first place that Warners wouldn”t have been able to saunter into town and fuck us up the ass ?

        [I’ve just reviewed the last dozen or so comments from you hs. You have become a troll. You are on a warning….RL]

        • Tiger Mountain 18.1.1.1

          What do you care about AE and NZCTU really? Nothing obviously. Save the wear on your keyboard HS.

          There was little sauntering by the way, but there was manipulation a plenty from ol’ Lord wounded gut along with Warners and Shonkey.

        • Colonial Viper 18.1.1.2

          That AE and CTU fucked this up monumentally ?
           

          Been through this a million times now. Did Equity play its cards well? No. Did the CTU come out smelling of roses? No.
           
          But that’s what happens when you get stabbed in the back by Peter Jackson and the other corporate hacks, then pissed on for good measure by the National Government.
           
          The unions will be smarter next time around.

          • Bazar 18.1.1.2.1

            “The unions will be smarter next time around.”
            In the case of Actors Equity, that’s not a partiticaly hard feat to accomplish.
            Haha, i couldn’t help myself, but its true.

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