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Jackson’s bad faith posturing

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, October 21st, 2010 - 516 comments
Categories: film, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Over the last couple of weeks Actors Equity has been quietly negotiating for a minimum standards contract for the Hobbit.

Things were looking good. So good in fact that the union had agreed to withdraw advice to their members that they don’t sign. They even drew up a joint statement to announce this. A statement that was drawn up with the producers, finalised last Sunday and was to be released early this week. As I understand it this statement was co-written with Peter Jackson himself.

Last night Jackson, and other employer reps decided to launch a broadside attack on the union claiming they had single handedly destroyed the New Zealand film industry and that the film is likely to go overseas. These claims have been widely reported verbatim.

But as Gordon Campbell points out, the real issue is much bigger than a few local actors wanting conditions in line with those of the overseas workers they’ll be working alongside. It’s about the tax breaks available to the industry – tax breaks that are half of some of those being offered by competing countries.

Unsurprisingly Gerry Brownlee, who has had been party to the negotiations, sounded sick on Morning Report this morning. He had a weak crack at claiming our “flexible” labour laws were what attracted the film industry here and avoided the tax question quite obviously. But, unusually for Brownlee, he didn’t even sound like he believed his own words.

AE is a small union up against a powerful corporation and they could have done a better job of a lot of things including getting their message out but the kind of bad faith and aggression that has been shown by Jackson and his team is astounding and cynical and sets a new low for employment relations in New Zealand.

516 comments on “Jackson’s bad faith posturing ”

    • Carol 1.1

      And Helen Kelly said a little while ago on Nat Rad that the techies were not told that the actors’ boycott had been called off while negotiations were going on. She asked why this information was deliberately withheld from industries techies, because if they had known that they would not have protested.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        They interviewed the guy who heads Weta Workshop on morning report. He said that even if they had been told yesterday that the boycott was off, they still would have done what they did, because there was nothing to be gained by sitting away quietly in their workshops while everyone else got to speak their piece.

  1. Carol 2

    Chief Exec of SPADA has just been on Nat Rad with the same “bad faith” line. She says she can’t comment on whether the government is negotiating to offer a bigger incentive. She said she couldn’t comment on that, and anyway it’s a red herring.

    She claims the main issue is that the actors’ union have given a bad impression of NZ as an unstable environment for movies being filmed here:
    ie, the subtext is, unions should just shut up, take whatever conditions and pay the industry moguls decide to offer them, and let the “big people” get on with making all the important business decisions – the execs know what’s best for everyone.

    How very democratic and non-condescending of them…. not.

  2. On Breakfast they ran the government line, as they always do. Then that square-jawed guy had a moment of revelation: ‘was our only competitive advantage that we were cheap?’

    • Gosman 3.1

      We weren’t cheap. However we did have a reputation of getting on with the job without grandstanding on pay and conditions. This gave the big studios the confidence that they wouldn’t be held to ransom. We have now lost that reputation. Thanks very much Union movement.

      • wobble 3.1.1

        If we’ve lost our reputation as the minimum standards slaves of large international business, then that’s a bloody good thing. We don’t need shitty working conditions imported from the U.S.A here.

        And if what IB says is true, then Peter Jackson is nothing but an unconscionable jerk. He should be held to account for the incredibly bad faith he’s shown in this whole saga.

        • Gosman

          We weren’t cheap. Listen to Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Warners offered very good terms and conditions. The Unions with their ignorance and greed have caused this problem.

          • wobble

            New Zealand should not poise itself to be a cheap hooker for the global film industry. Sir, we have standards and deserve a fair price.

            • Gosman

              WE WEREN’T CHEAP!

              • Shane

                Gosman – you are an idiot.

                You know nothing about the industry. We are cheap – cheap as a developing country.

                That is why companies film here a lot. You talk about your mate getting stunt work for $1000 a day – well in any other country with Actors unions (like the good ol’ USA) he would be earning a LOT more. My brothers worked as stunt-extras on King Arthur in Ireland and they were earning more than your mate and with better conditions.
                Why? Because Equity there has a firm hold on the pay and conditions and the government worked with the unions to make sure that production companies paid decent wages and had decent conditions.

                So why is Ireland still a popular place to film? Several reasons:
                – good tax incentives
                – good quality staff (because they are paid well)
                – great talent (again because of the good pay)
                – good support from local and central govt. for projects
                – good support from the general population

                If the government here worked with the unions to set decent standards of pay instead of selling Kiwis off to foreign production companies as cheap labour, then we would not have this mess. But instead we have both National and Labour unwilling to upset the business elite.

                • Gosman

                  And you can’t read properly. It wasn’t me who stated they knew someone earning $1000 per day as a stuntman.

                  By the way if the issue is as you put it why did Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens claim that the action by the Union has caused the potential loss of the movie rather than it being about stuff like Tax incentives you mention?

                  They also stated that Peter Jackson pays good rates compared to the industry average. Do you also think they lied on this point?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Jackson’s bad faith posturing

                    Nah you didnt state it but you spoke directly to the point.

                  • Shane

                    Compared to the industry average in this country – not internationally. That is the whole point of the dispute. Also it is not just the pay – it was conditions as well.

                    Fran and Philippa are working for the production company. And they cannot front up and claim that they want to gouge the NZ people of tens of millions of dollars to profit overseas investors. Kind of wouldn’t play well to the local audience. So they are telling fibs. Or else they are being lied to. I guess it might be the latter. But maybe I am being too kind. This is not about pay – this is about getting tax cuts. Just wait…

                    • Gosman

                      Do you have any EVIDENCE that NZ pay rates on Peter Jackson films are less than international averages?

                    • Gosman

                      As Pascal has posted below the rates that Actors were going to get on The Hobbit are 30% higher than the specified SAG minimums. Are you going to continue to claim that NZ Actors are being paid less than those from other countries?

                    • jacinda

                      Shane, Gosman just handed you your backside on a platter and you suddenly quieten up. Lol!


                  • The Baron

                    Hold on a moment – I seem to remember an interview with Jennifer Ward-Leeland at the start of this process who said it wasn’t all about money… about, ah, something else, unspecified…

                    Are you telling me that it is all about money now?

                    If so HHHHHHHHHHHARRRRHARHARHARHAR stupid f*cking unionists have done themselves out of a job yet again by being money grubbing idiots.

        • ZeeBop

          Rubbish. Jackson knows all about staging. Unions are on the rise nationally and globally, so Jackson is doing the union movement a favor, better still if the Hobbit did fly off overseas, because National whining on about one particular union will look like incompetence when across the economy unions are marching.

          National want to hold on to the neo-liberal straitjacket while the neo-liberal project is almost spent,
          how surprising then that Jackson might be being exceptably annoying to unions, leaving the
          government with yet another industry with an industrial dispute.

          Many employers want their employees and consumers to get a better deal, because it will be good
          for the economy to stem the flow of profits overseas. Whats good for employees, consumers, is
          also good for business and the economy. DUH.

          National are history.

          • Gosman

            So a Union potentially costing the NZ economy a good part of $500 million dollar international film production won’t make NZer’s dislike the Union movement and the Labour Party that represents this movement?

            Hmmmmm…. I don’t know what you are smoking but it sure does interesting things to your though processes.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yeah, the old NAT right wing line – blame the workers for not suffering even longer, when it is in fact corporate owners and senior/executive management who frakked up the game plan for the country.

              • Gosman

                Yeah because those poor actors working on LOTR suffered greatly didn’t they?

                Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens stated on the Radio this morning that Peter Jackson pays well by industry standards. Are you calling them liars?

                • ZeeBop

                  Yeah, love the love. I mean the rich, we’re told need tax cuts to boost their earnings, so they can do good things. Turn it arouond and the unions come out for better deals to boost their extravagent wages and now the right declare they don’t deserve the money! How twisted is that!

                  But love how Labour has control of an Australian union who are part of a world union of actors putting the screws on Peter. Oh, should we really have Labour in opposition if they can create such evil, better have them where we can see them hey.

        • Vicky32

          “Peter Jackson is nothing but an unconscionable jerk. He should be held to account for the incredibly bad faith he’s shown in this whole saga.”

      • Fisiani 3.1.2

        Typical unthinking union putting short term possible gain against long term benefit. The Aussie union has cost me my job.

  3. zimmer 4

    It’s all about stability of the workforce. Hollywood have a lot of clout and countries line up bending over backwards to get this type of work.
    I have a friend who is a stunt man, he will now have a lighter workload for the next 2 years now bc of this probable cancellation. He sometimes earned $1000 per day. Is Actors equity going to compensate him for this? Spin this all you like but Helen Kelly has fucked up big time and after calling PJ a ‘spoilt brat’. This will make this worse and possibly be the final nail in the coffin. She is just a silly bitch.

    IrishBill: and you’re banned for a week for misogyny.

    • Bending over forward I reckon. She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

      I worked in the film industry oversees for many years and have nothing to show for it while I worked my arse off.
      The only reason Hollywood is what it is and why it still exists is because of the unions. So perhaps all film workers (around the world) should become members of the US unions and give them some more cloud and finally get some decent pay. A $1000.- per day as a stunt man, what a joke. What’s he gonna do when his body craps out and he can no longer do the stunts the cruises, jolies and other assorted “actors” get paid handsomely for to avoid eh?


      • Gosman 4.1.1

        Don’t become a stunt man then if you don’t want $1000 per day.

        • Colonial Viper

          You’d be an idiot to settle for $1000 per day if the job is worth $2000 per day. Are you an idiot?

          • Gosman

            A job is worth what someone is willing to pay someone and what someone is willing to work for.

            I currently earn 25% more for my job than I did for the same sort of job at another company. I know people at the previous company earning significantly less than me. Does this mean that I was being ripped off before? I’d suggest not as I was happy with the wage I was getting at the time.

            • Colonial Viper

              it seems that you know the value of your work Gosman, guess what, other NZ workers do too.

              And don’t shit on them for standing firm to that.

              • Gosman

                If they cause the country damage, (not to mention themselves – but that is their own problem) by their actions leading to a $500 million project going somewhere else I think they deserve all the hassle they receive.

                • Puddleglum

                  You’ve made this point a couple of times. It assumes that there is such a unified thing as New Zealand’s ‘interest’. There isn’t.

                  There are innumerable different groups in this country (depending upon how you slice the population up and on what criteria). All of those groups have different interests. $500 million injected into the statistic known as GDP does not benefit everyone equally and, depending on the timeline and consequences of such an injection, can be harmful for large numbers of people (e.g., by keeping wages lower for longer through giving unions less credibility and rhetorical support).

                  The notion that we all share a common interest is simply incorrect particularly when it’s based on some ‘global’ statistic like GDP or foreign investment (already that limits discussion to economic interests). There will be some people (a relative few) who will benefit greatly from this film. There will be some who benefit for a while to a far lesser degree. There will be others – I’d suggest many others – who will be disadvantaged (there is no such thing as a universal ‘win’). That’s one reason why I prefer arguments from principle rather than those based on some utilitarian calculus – the latter are always covertly biased towards particular interests.

            • Ari

              And the point of unions is to encourage people not to lower their standards on what they’re willing to work for. Don’t act like people don’t understand economics, it’s patronising.

            • Susan

              Glad you aren’t my employee – you seem to spend a very long time writing blog comments and probably are neither an actor or film industry worker, and interpret what you read in newspapers and see on the telly news as “Truth” and are undoubtedly under the age of 35 so have yet to understand that ‘nothing is ever as it seems’ and truth will always reveal itself in time. Wise to be prepared for fallen idols in this situation.
              This is intended for GOSMAN.

    • zimmer 4.2

      I called one of your mates a silly bitch and I get banned, wanker.

      IrishBill: Make that a month.

  4. Gosman 5

    If it was all about Tax incentives, as many on the left are trying to spin it, why hasn’t Peter Jackson come out and say this is the main factor? He hasn’t been backward in the past about hassling decisions made by Government in the past.

    Face facts, the Unions have caused this. It was so funny listening to Comrades Kelly and Malcolm on Radio Nz National this morning sounding like stunned mullets.

    • IrishBill 5.1

      Perhaps because “give me a bigger tax break” isn’t the most endearing argument to take to the public who will pay for that break?

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        He’s been pretty big on demanding action from Government before.

        You just can’t accept the fact that the Unions have potentially caused massive damage to NZ’s economy with their actions.

        • wobble

          Actually Gosman, it’s the movie industry who endangered our reputation by trying to import 3rd world working conditions into NZ. Talk about trying to ruin NZ’s rep as a sweet as place to live.

          • Gosman

            Listen to radio NZ National now. Are you saying Phippa Boyens and Fran Walsh are lying?

            How about all those workers marching last night for their jobs? Are they deluded?

            • wobble

              Are you saying you believe one group over another simply because you share similar political goals?

              • OleOlebiscuitBarrell

                Fair enough, Wobble. Care to explain why you support the workers represented by the Australian union over the workers who marched yesterday?

                • Shane

                  And all the international Actor unions fool.

                  The workers are being played off each other. This is a beat-up by the production companies to get a bigger tax cut.

                  • Gosman

                    So Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are lying then?

                    Why would they do that? Are they evil?

                  • pollywog

                    it’s the movie industry who endangered our reputation by trying to import 3rd world working conditions into NZ.

                    Which 3rd world movie industry and working conditions would that be ?

        • Susan

          Grow up kid. Have you ever heard of the ‘social contract’? No, I thought not. All relationships are negotiable, but evidently by your lights, some are more negotiable than others – you describe your own negotiation with an employer which enabled you to earn more- so grant the same opporuntity to others? NO evidence of a trained mind here…

    • So Gosman

      How much were Actors Equity’s demands actually worth? Someone (Robyn Malcolm) heavily involved in the industry says very little, you ridicule this but do not quote any figure.

      So how much is it worth?

      • Gosman 5.2.1

        The money is not the issue. It is the damage the actions of the Actors Union has caused to the image of NZ as a place for the big studios to do business in. By holding the project to ransom the big studios will think that at any stage in the future they could do the same. Given the amount of money involved they aren’t going to want to risk that happening on a regular basis.

        By the way listen to Radio NZ National 9 to noon in a few minutes to hear what Phillip Boyens and Fran Walsh have to say about this. See if they say it is all about Tax breaks rather than Unions and then get back to me.

        • pollywog

          Who gives a shit what robyn malcolm thinks ? what’s cliff curtis, sam neill and karl urban got to say on the current standoff.

          its not like anyones gonna buy a lusty hobbit wench plastic figurine in robyn’s likeness to generate any residuals from merchandising or watch the hobbit cos shes’s in it.

          so really…

          how bad are NZ wages and working conditions compared to other NZ industries and not to the top end film industries of wealthy western nations that actors had to take a stand and hold the local film industry to ransom ?

        • mickysavage

          The money is always the issue gman.

          And you have not answered the question. What was Actors Equity’s demands/requests worth?

          • Colonial Viper

            Bet you Peter and Fran could have settled the entire dispute personally with 10% of their own cut from the project. Would be very surprised if the difference we are talking about here would amount to more than NZ$1M in additional worker benefits.

            But these corporate guys are not just looking at the Hobbit. They do not want to see a lasting rise in working conditions in NZ full stop. So they are fighting hard not just for the increased costs on this one project but for all future projects.

            Which is exactly the viewpoint the union has – from the other side.

            • Clayton Smith

              Let me get this right, your suggesting that peter should take a paycut, just to cover the union dispute.

              That’s retarded.
              How much peter gets paid is outside the argument for working conditions. He’ll get paid his directors fee regardless of where its cast. Are you suggesting that he should take a cut to his own profit, just so it can be filmed in NZ.
              Thats not justifiable in any way.

              And as no company wants to pay workers more then they have to, just as no company likes having to price their products lower then they could.

              You get paid more money working where there are more job opportunities, just as you get cheaper products by having more competition in products. More is Better.

              Pricing/screwing yourself outside of the market does neither.
              NZ had a real thing going with movie making, and conditions were improving for employment. Minimum wages were far higher then the US standards required, so what the hell was with calling a global boycott for?

              Now with the movie going offshore, pay conditions will deteriate, as future jobs become harder to find.

              So well done. Even if this stunt was done for the best of reasons, its (predictably) had the worst of outcomes. Their heavy handed methods have failed to achieve anything of value, while seriously jeopardising the NZ movie industry

              I just can’t find the words to state how disgusted i am that a few people can cause so much damage to so many others, just to get their way. And do it so badly with so much at stake!

              • It seems that the RWNJ union had a meeting recently and decided to comment en masse on this post. They wanted to say that the union movement and the Labour Party decided to sabotage NZ’s economy. There are just a few problems with this:

                1. Labour and the Trade Union movement did not decide to do anything.
                2. Actors Equity wanted to improve the plight of local workers on film sets and for the past month have been trying to negotiate contractual conditions on the Hobbit set.
                3. They reached agreement with Warners last weekend to withdraw the ban previously imposed.
                4. For reasons known to them Warners decided not to release news of the withdrawal.
                5. Wingnut films (RWNJs love the name) announced that the awful terrible Moscow aligned Actors Equity Union had sabotaged the whole project.
                6. Many RWNJs have been posting today saying that it is all the fault of every single union in the country and the Labour party that this dispute has not been settled.
                7. No one has quantified the value of the dispute although Robyn Malcolm thought that the coffee budget would be bigger.
                8. Labour had a really good conference last weekend and the nats had to break positive media response somehow.
                9. Many RWNJs have posted today but with the greatest of respect the original post has been vindicated by news releases made today.

                Do I detect the invisible hand of Crosby Textor?

          • The Baron

            I for one am still not clear about what they are. Care to enlighten me/us?

            Because every time it comes up, they seem to simply go blue in the face declaring it isn’t about money, but can’t seem to quite name what the problem then is…

          • jacinda

            You completely missed the point though micky. Its not what its worth, its that a company doesn’t want the potential to be held at ransom by a union. If it has happened now, and already delayed things and cost money, then the potential for it happening again is too much of a risk.

            I assume you have never run a company before mickey, but any risks like that are well worth avoiding, let alone trying to run a $500 million film production.

            • Colonial Viper

              I call BS on this. Only bad managers are worried about treating employees so badly that workplace disruption occurs.

              Bad managers love compliant disorganised workers who have to work without minimum terms and conditions.

              I assume you have never run a company before mickey, but any risks like that are well worth avoiding, let alone trying to run a $500 million film production.

              And what do you know about running a $500M film production?

              Conducting business is an exercise in managed risk, or did you not learn that in first year commerce? And how do you manage the risk? Talk with the unions and agree to basic minimum terms and conditions.

              Not move the project to Azakbehstan.

            • Craig Glen Eden

              Just for the record jacinda mickey does as it happens run a company and he does a very good job at it, I have met people who work for him not only does he pay well they love working for his company. While mickey wont turn over 500 mill this year, if he did he would gladly share it a round because he is a generous good bastard. Ensuring employees have decent work conditions is not being held to ransom. Try sticking to an argument instead of making baseless assumptions next time!

    • Vicky32 5.3

      “why hasn’t Peter Jackson come out and say this is the main factor? ”
      Because he doesn’t want to offend Warner! Simple…

  5. Carol 6

    So no decision has actuallly been made, just a press release from PJ & co that a decision MIGHT go against NZ? And the day after a good sized union turnout in oppposition to proposed anti-worker employment laws?

    What sort of gaming is going on here?

    • Gosman 6.1

      Yeah because Peter Jackson is evil and is obviously in cahoots with the evil capitalists (forgetting the fact he was the darling of the last Labour led Government, who couldn’t get enough of him).

      • wobble 6.1.1

        If what IB says is true Gosman, then Peter Jackson isn’t evil, but he sure as hell acted in bad faith over this whole situation.

        • Gosman

          Nope, according to Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens it is Helen Kelly who has been acting in bad faith and lying over this.

          • wobble

            Be interesting to see correspondence around this whole issue released. Though I’m sure Peter Jackson would vigorously resist such a move to try and protect his crumbling reputation.

            • Gosman

              Perhaps you mean Helen Kelly’s crumbling reputation.

              • wobble

                No. I mean Jackson.

                That is what I said.

                • Gosman

                  In whose eyes has Peter Jackson’s reputation crumbled in? The members of the Union movement? Well not all of them if that march last night is any indication.

                  I’d suggest the majority of New Zealanders support what Peter Jackson has done and his position on this. Will be interesting to see a opinion poll on this. I don’t think Helen Kelly will come out with much support.

          • Murray

            why is Helen Kelly conspiring with the Australian unions to export New Zealand Jobs?

          • Vicky32

            Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? Doesn’t make it true… 😀 (one of them is Jackson’s wife for goodness’ sake!)

  6. Gosman 7

    One positive that has come out of this is that all the media attention has been sucked away from the Union campaign yesterday (March on Parliament – What march? Oh, you mean the one by the film workers protesting against Actors Equity ).

    It should wake up Middle New Zealand to the damage that Unions do to the economy of New Zealand.

  7. Joe Bloggs 8

    IB your comments and Gordon Campbell’s are nothing but a cynical attempt to divert attention from the real issue.

    Trying to lay this debacle at the feet of poor tax breaks is spin and stupidity. The tax breaks haven’t changed in the past year – tax breaks are not the variable here. Proof in point: Avatar was successfully produced under the existing tax break structure.

    Blaming Peter Jackson is more smoke and mirrors in action. The MEAA/AE started this bad faith posturing when they urged international unions to boycott the Hobbitt production, using the film as a way to ‘unionise other productions’ in the New Zealand film industry whether workers in the industry want it or not.

    What has changed is that a few Aussie stirrers have stepped into the NZ industry with their bully-boy tactics, manipulated and exploited a handful of naive actors, and brought the NZ film industry to the brink of a domino collapse. A bunch of foreign unionists purporting to represent the NZ workers have been so caught up in their self-interest that they’ve risked over 20,000 NZ jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry.

    And what’s the Actor’s Equity response when they hear that 1500 fellow film industry workers were marching to protest against the AE actions? Cancel their meeting, run for cover, hide in the sand, blame everyone but themselves – self-centred, gutless cunts.

    By their actions these few fuckers have set about driving thousands of jobs offshore. Great result arseholes. Hope you’re happy.

    • Gosman 8.1

      Couldn’t agree more Joe Bloggs.

      Hopefully more New Zealanders will wake up and see the damage Unions cause.

    • Well Joe

      What were the union demands and why were they so unreasonable.

      You have this mindset

      Unions = evil
      Business = good

      It is very hard to have a debate with this mindset.

      • Gosman 8.2.1

        So, you have the opposite mindset Mickysavage. What is your point exactly?

      • Gosman 8.2.2

        Listent to Radio NZ National now (9:09 am)

        • Gosman

          Fran Walsh is accusing Helen Kelly of spreading misinformation

          • Gosman

            Apparently the boycott has not been lifted. Helen Kelly lied on Radio this morning.

            • wobble

              Like I said. Let’s see the evidence – there must be a trail of correspondence if the two parties were talking. How willing are both sides to see correspondence released?

            • mickysavage

              Um it appears it has been lifted but not announced because of Jackson/Warner holding it up.

              Walsh must have known this.

              • Gosman

                So you calling Walsh and Boyens liars then?

              • Gosman

                They actually stated they called a representative of SAG and asked them why the Blacklist was not lifted yet. The reply was that they didn’t want to do it yet. If accurate then this is as about as petulent as you can get. Union members acting like spoiled children, who would have thunk it?

            • Puddleglum

              I write this after just having heard that, indeed, the boycott had been lifted prior to this morning and Peter Jackson knew about that. Listen to this.

              Whatever your source for the conclusion that “Apparently the boycott has not been lifted. Helen Kelly lied on Radio this morning” it was wrong (possibly even lying). Was it the radio interview you were listening to? If so, it perhaps answers your repeated question about whether or not the interviewees were lying (or at least oddly misinformed, given the personal and professional relationships with Peter Jackson they have).

              • Clayton Smith

                Its the actors unions saying they lifted the ban, and that was recorded today.

                So as far as we know, the ban was still in place on sunday/monday. And i very well expect it was.

                Everytime i’ve checked to see what AE says is fair/true, i’ve found them to be full of rubbish.

                I’d stick with PJ on this. Even IF the blacklist had been called off, it changes nothing.
                As PJ has said, the damage has been done, the march would of still gone ahead, as they were protesting for 2 reasons. To stop the boycott, and to show their support against the AE.

                But AE blames PJ for not telling the “truth”, and thinks that there was no reason for the march. Shes honestly unable to grasp just how seriously damaged our film making reputation is.
                I personally think we’ll have lost the hobbit and many other movies as a result of her amature and incompetent negotiations. The cost in the order of over 1 billion dollars. Possibly 2 billion+ long-term.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Multinationals need to respect NZ workers minimum and basic rights. Its only fair. Corporates should not expect to be shown gratitude for refusing to come to the negotiating table to discuss basic terms and conditions.

                  You say that NZ might lose over a billion dollars. I call BS on this.

                  What AE was seeking is on the order of a few hundred thousand dollars.

                  If negotiations have gone badly then Jackson and Warner’s million dollar men have every bit as much responsibility for the outcome as the union does.

                  This is a US corporate ploy to extract tens of millions more in tax breaks and they are not afraid to blackmail an entire country to get their money. Its that simple.

                • Carol

                  Try reading Gordon Campbell about how the debate has got over-heated. Kelly has done a good job and been manipulated by Warners. Its all about the money. NZ’s reputation has not been damaged by Kelly…. spin, spin, spin… I’m getting dizzy.

                  Why believe PJ over Kelly, when Kelly, Malcolm and others in Actors’ Equity have said the same thing today, while the Jackson team has made contradictory statements?

      • Joe Bloggs 8.2.3

        No MickeyS

        the mindset that most of New Zealand has is that this MEAA/AE bunch of thugs represents less than 5% of the NZ actors, and as a direct result of their witless bullying tactics, they have compromised the livelihoods of over 20,000 New Zealanders who earn livings from the local film industry.

        If you interpret that to mean union = evil then you are damn fucking right!

        And if you can’t understand why New Zealanders feel this way, then you need to wean yourself off of the drugs and get out a bit more regularly.

    • Vicky32 8.3

      Joe Bloggs, your foul language is literally making me vomit in my mouth. Shame on you.

  8. Nick K 9

    This post belongs on Dimpost as a satire. Surely it is?

    • IrishBill 9.1

      I wish it was but Jackson actually behaved like that. Hard to believe, eh?

      • Nick K 9.1.1

        I’d back the word of people given kinghthoods over union socialist lefties any day, and every day.

        • IrishBill

          Now that’s some good satire you’ve written there.

        • mickysavage

          Have you done anything Nick like, um, check out the facts?

          Or do you just have a thing for royalty?

          • Gosman

            Are you listening to Radio NZ National ?

            • mickysavage

              Yep. Heard both sides. Giving kiwi workers minimum standards enjoyed by overseas workers at the same site sounds reasonable to me.

              • OleOlebiscuitBarrell

                Only now they won’t get a cent. Well played.

                • wobble

                  They would’ve gotten AT LEAST one cent under Jackson’s regime eh Ole?

                  • Gosman

                    They would have got a damn site more than that. Stop spinning this as if Peter Jackson is some sweatshop factory owner.

                    Where is the Aussie Union boss who caused this?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Jackson has unnecessarily trashed his reputation in NZ. Not that he cares, he’s too busy hanging out with his ilk these days.

                      From being a hero of the country to being just another corporate minded owner in just a few years. Sad.

                    • Gosman

                      His reputation is only trashed for people like you. I’d suggest the vast majority of New Zealanders still regard him highly. Helen Kelly not so much now though.

                    • Bright Red

                      there isn’t one. this is a dispute between Actors’ equity NZ and the hobbit producers.

                      in truth, it’s really about the hobbit getting bigger tax breaks.

  9. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 10

    I accept it is not central to the issue, but I doubt Helen Kelly helped her cause by insisting on sneeringly referring to Sir Peter as “Jackson” on morning report. Surely, whatever has happened, he has earned the courtesy of at least being referred to as “Peter Jackson”.

    • OleOlebiscuitBarrell 10.1

      And Irish does it as well. Even Gerry Brownlee is endearingly referred to by his whole name in the post. Yet Peter Jackson is just “Jackson”.

      • IrishBill 10.1.1

        It’s a journalistic convention to refer to people by their last names after the first mention of their name. I’ll fix the first para to use Jackson’s first name the first time it’s mentioned in the body text.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.2

        As I saw some right winger write yesterday…diddums.

  10. Over the last couple of weeks Actors Equity has been quietly negotiating for a minimum standards contract for the Hobbit.

    ‘Quietly negotiating’? They called for a global boycott of the film.

    • How about this from Actors Equity?

      NZ Equity has called on the makers of the feature film The Hobbit to resolve the industrial issues surrounding the film through private good faith discussions. “We want to see this film shot in New Zealand,” said Actors’ Equity New Zealand President Jennifer Ward-Lealand. “We believe the best way to do this is to sit down calmly and talk.”

      Over the last few weeks there has been a high level of interest and emotion in the issues surrounding the engagement of performers on the production. “We have chosen, in a deliberate decision, to avoid the media fray on this. Negative comments don’t serve the primary objective of seeing the production made in New Zealand,” said Ms Ward-Lealand.

      “We want to see this film produced in New Zealand,” said Simon Whipp, Director of the Actors’ Equity Section of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance of which NZ Equity is a branch.

      “We have chosen not to discuss this matter extensively in the media. We believe discussing the terms and conditions for the engagement of performers with the producers in a calm and reasonable manner will be more productive. Media speculation will only serve the interests of those who seek to lure the production from New Zealand,” said Mr Whipp.

      Seems pretty reasonable to me.

      • Gosman 11.1.1

        So the blacklisting of the film was valid and didn’t cause any damage then Mickysavage?

      • SHG 11.1.2

        Is NZ Equity officially registered as a legal entity yet? It wasn’t when this whole shitstorm started.

    • Inventory2 11.2

      Quite so Danyl; I suspect that Irish Bill is deeply embarrassed that the actions of a union have resulted in a catastrophic loss of income for the country, both directly related to The Hobbit and in terms of spin-offs.

      The photo of Jackson and the private jet is a bit of a giveaway too; the green-eyed monster lives!

  11. Adrian 12

    I’ve worked on international films from 1983 to 1999 and there are only two things that determine where a big movie is made. 1 …Exchange rate, even a 1% movement above their forward planning will get the big studios to reconsider ( I was stood down twice in the 80s, before I had even started simply because the exchange rate shifted, and when the studios put the screws on the Govt of the day for compensation got the word to go again) and 2…money laundering , this is bigger than exchange rates, virtually every big movie made has had a degree of dirty money being washed through movies. The Bounty filmed in Tahiti, produced by Dino de Laurentis was financed by the need for the Mafia to repatriate their profits from the heroin labs in the south of France, at the time you could only shift about $US30,000 out of France at any time. But, spend millions in Tahiti, send 20 rolls of film out of there with the receipts banked in the Cayman Islands and you’re home clean. A lot of the money that paid for all the big epics made in Africa in the 70s and 80s (Wild Geese, Zulu and stuff that didn’t even need to be made in Africa) was to get the arms and dirty diamonds money out of there. Jacksons greatest skill is getting money out of the NZ Government. He should get the Best Actor Oscar.

  12. big bruv 13

    Oh well done to the union movement, thousands of people will now miss out on the chance to work on this film thanks to union greed.

    So a few professional shit stirrers (no doubt paid employees of a union) have managed to stuff it up for thousands of workers.

    And you guys wonder why only 20% of the workforce pay union dues.

    • Bright Red 13.1

      Yeah because that’s what unions are all about, getting rid of jobs, eh BB?

      God, listen to yourself.

      All the unionised workers want is to be employed on the same terms as workers from Holywood that will be working on the project are employed. the additional cost will be tiny.

      Is that so much to ask from movie that will make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit?

      Is the future that you want for NZ for us to be a low-wage economy competing with Asia and Eastern Europe for who can be cheapest? Is that a path to wealth?

      • Gosman 13.1.1

        Ummm… yes it is too much to ask, as evidenced by the fact that their is a good chance they won’t make the movie here.

      • big bruv 13.1.2

        “Yeah because that’s what unions are all about, getting rid of jobs, eh BB?”

        All the evidence points to them doing exactly that.

        Stop trying to deflect the blame Red, the greedy unions stuffed up big time.

        The path to wealth is having people employed, for you to suggest that these people would have been paid a pittance is simply untrue.

        I can just imagine the lies and bullshit that the left will come out with as they attempt to spin their way out of this, hopefully the left wing media will not let them get away with it.

      • clandestino 13.1.3

        YES! Proves how much you understand about comparative advantage.
        Actors still get paid phenomenally well compared to other professions, for the work they do.

        When they say ‘it’s about the conditions’, I immediately think of the residuals. They want a cut of the action figure sales etc. This is in effect payment, so when they say it’s not about the money, they are being disingenuous.

        NO single industry in the world (that I know of, prove me wrong) has the same worldwide working conditions, it’s a ridiculous premise to start with.

        When a studio is prepared to spend $500 mil and contribute to our economy positively like this, they deserve their profit as far as I’m concerned. This is the dilemma faced by all protectionists for many industries. You can kill the FDI out of misplaced anger at profit taking (despite whatever economic benefit accompanies it) or you can become a protectionist insular economy and see PPP, real wages, and credit disappear offshore.

        And before the predicitable monetary reformists pipe up about interest bearing debt, I understand the point, but it’s still more about WHAT we spend our money on not HOW it was created.

        We haven’t just killed the Golden Goose, we’ve butchered it.

    • Shane 13.2

      Sorry – is this a day out for all the RWNJs?

      What paid employees? This is a union of 300 actors! How much money do you think they have? Er – none?

      The only paid people here are the PR firm running this. This is such a set up and they have walked through everyone here. This is about tax incentives and stopping the spread of good unionization as an aside. The pay and conditions being negotiated are a very marginal cost at the worst to the production – this is all about saving tens of millions in tax on the production.

      I hate it that everyone is being led by the nose by this PR company.

    • SHG 13.3

      So a few professional shit stirrers (no doubt paid employees of a union) have managed to stuff it up for thousands of workers.

      This whole affair is a win-win for the Australian union MEAA.

      Either they get recognised as the voice of NZ actors – and thus NZ actors have to join and pay members fees if they want to work – or NZ loses all the work, in which case some of it will inevitably be picked up by Australian companies. Which the MEAA will claim to represent too.

  13. Gosman 14

    The film was blacklisted by the Union movement.

    The blacklist was not lifted as Helen Kelly stated on Radio this morning.

    • wobble 14.1

      Gosman – You’re making a lot of politically bias statements without any evidence whatsoever. Maybe you should just hold your horses for a bit and see if any details and hard evidence are publically released.

    • IrishBill 14.2

      The producers and the union co-wrote a statement lifting the ban on Sunday. The producers have not released the statement. Seems like they’ve had the power to lift the ban for five days now and haven’t done so. What’s that all about?

      • Gosman 14.2.1

        Did you listen to Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens this morning?

        • IrishBill

          Did you listen to Helen Kelly afterwards?

          • Gosman

            Yep, and I believe the two people whose life work is tied up in this rather than some Union official who is spinning some political nonsense to protect her job.

            • Shane

              Helen Kelly is the President of the CTU. She is not protecting her job. She is helping an inexperienced group of workers negotiate with a bloody big and scary production company. Stop talking like you know anything.

              Okay – why did the production company embargo the announcement? Hmm? If they wanted the production to go ahead asap then they would have announced it and carried on with the production, But I am convinced this is a set up to get further tax incentives out of the government.

              My grandfather said if something does not seem to add up, follow the money trail. The big money here is in tax cuts on the production. That will save them tens of millions. That is real money, not some marginal pay and conditions; they mean a lot to the struggling actors but pretty little to the big production companies.

              • Gosman

                Why did Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens state on Radio NZ National that they asked why the blacklist wasn’t lifted and was advised by a member of SAG that they would do it when they wanted to?

                Are Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens lying then?

                • Vicky32

                  Very possibly, if they’re saying what you said they’re saying… What makes you think they wouldn’t?

              • Joe Bloggs

                Helen Kelly is spinning like a top now. She is protecting her job and helping a bunch of foreigners wreck a local industry and turn thousands of workers out on the streets.

                Her defence and the economic sabotage from the MEAA will be defining moments in the ebbing tide of public support for the unions in NZ.

                • So Joe some questions.

                  1. Why would Warner transfer the filming even though the blacklist is withdrawn?
                  2. Why are Jackson and Co suggesting the blacklist is still in place when it seems pretty clear they knew it was no longer in place?
                  3. Are you and the other RWNJs going to apologise for suggesting that Helen Kelly was not telling the truth?

                  • Joe Bloggs

                    1. because the Aussie unionists have completely destabilised the local industry

                    2. I don’t give a toss whether the boycott is on or off – it’s already done enough damage

                    3. Helen Kelly denies any union culpability – she is either lying or completely deluded and is therefore not deserving of any kind of apology

                    captcha: film – what we’ll be seeing a lot less on in NZ thanks to Her Nibs and her Aussie backstabbing comrades.

                    • Gosman

                      The Blacklist is still in place. It is still on the SAG website as Sam below has highlighted. Helen Kelly can pontificate as much as she likes about how it has been lifted but the fact remains that as far as the SAg is concerned it is still in effect. Helen Kelly is a lying unionist.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      This is all about Jackson and the corporates gunning for tens of millions in extra tax breaks from the Government. This is nothing to do with union demands for a few hundred thousand dollars worth of *minimum* terms and conditions for workers.

                      Follow the big money, that’s what Jackson and Warner are doing.

                      And they don’t care if they make NZ workers collateral damage in the process.

      • big bruv 14.2.2

        Where is the press release from the union telling us that the ban had been lifted?

        Proof is required or I will have to assume that this is more lies from the union.

        • Bright Red


          There. You. Are. You. Fucken. Tool.

          and Wingnut films agreeing it is lifted.


          • mickysavage

            Thanks BR


            Can we like get an apology or something? Can you apoliogise to Helen Kelly for calling her a liar?

            • Gosman

              “Remarks on television by Helen Kelly of the CTU, demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the film industry. Nothing she had to say about The Hobbit and film financing was remotely factual. Why she has suddenly become the NZ Equity spokesperson is unclear, it appears to be a case of the blind being lead by the even-more-blind.”

              Note the comment from Wingnut films saying that Helen Kelly’s comments were not remotely factual. In short they call her a liar.

              • Trapped.

                You and others including Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens have said that the blacklisting remains in place and that Helen Kelly is lying.

                This from Wingnuts press release:

                The lifting of the blacklist on The Hobbit does nothing to help the films stay in New Zealand.

                Surely you can apologise?

                • Gosman

                  The same press release called her a liar. At the time she stated the blacklist was lifted it was not, it was still in effect. She then tried to blame this on Warners and Peter Jackson when Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens stated that they had been told that the blacklisting would only be removed when the Union decided to do it. More lies from a lying unionist.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Strangely enough Gosman, Jackson and co. are going to find that NZ workers deserve the same minimum pay and conditions as their Australian counterparts, for doing exactly the same work.

                    And of course, we know that this fight is nothing to do with a few hundreds of thousands of dollars of workers’ minimum conditions. It is Jackson and Warner trying to strong arm tens of millions of dollars of tax breaks from the NZ Government.

                    Why don’t you try backing your fellow NZ workers for a change, instead of the US corporate hacks?

          • Gosman

            Over 80 percent of respondents on a Stuff.co.nz poll on this issue blame the Unions.


            Whose Reputation is being trashed here again?

            • mickysavage

              Spin spin spin spin spin spin spin spin

              Moral outrage whipped up by RWNJs reaches fever pitch.

              Now about that apology?

              • Gosman

                See my comment above. Wingnut calls her a liar and I have no reason to doubt them.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yeah, I’m not surprised you believe the bosses and the corporate hacks ahead of fellow working NZ’ers.

                  Guess what, I reckon Bill and John are in for a bit of a working class surprise next year.

                  • Nick C

                    Fellow working New Zealanders!?!

                    Did you see the hundreds of New Zealand workers protesting against the MEAA?

            • Colonial Viper

              its over for Jackson’s reputation as a NZ hero. Now he is just like any other well paid corporate agent.

              I hope the walls on his Wairarapa palace are nice and high, I guess now we know why he built them that way.

              • Gosman

                I’d suggest Helen Kelly has more to worry about if the results of the Stuff poll are anything to go by.

                Even Robyn Malcolm admitted that the Union is going to get blamed for this. Of course she is too ignorant to realise why it is their fault.

          • sam


            So The screen actors guild dont know yet. woohoo.

      • Sam 14.2.3

        Then why do the SAG still have a no work notice on their site for the production? If the Ban was lifted on sunday, Surely the union would have notified teh SAG, which would have lifted the ban.

  14. Carol 15

    I’ve never been a great fan of PJ’s work, but I have appreciated his skills and success. I have gone to see his films out of respect for their value to NZ. I’ve never enjoyed the films that much or the values that portray – masculinist, colonialist, Hollywood blockbusters.

    But, the way things are going, I will not be watching The Hobbit, wherever it’s filmed.

    I’m more interested in movies made with much more local content. Sod Hollywood and it’s corporate drivers.

    • Gosman 15.1

      Yeah we don’t need a $500 million dollar movie made here.

      What a muppet.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        Usual story Gozzy.

        Give workers their fair share instead of standing up for the corporate hacks.

    • Inventory2 15.2

      I enjoy movies with local content too. Sadly, they may be few and far between in the future.

      • Joe Bloggs 15.2.1

        Lord of the Rings – masculinist, colonialist, hollywood?

        Poor Tolkein must be rolling in his grave

        • Vicky32

          He would be if the films had very much in common with the books, which they do not. (Trust me I am an expert on the books…)

          • comedy

            No not much in common apart from the characters script and storyline …. true no scouring of the shire but the film would’ve been five or six movies if they’d tried to fit everything in.

            • Vicky32

              Then there’s Jackson’s claims that he had written the warrior woman part for Eowyn who in the books was just an ornamental princess – well, that was such a transparent lie, that it made me sick!
              She’s far more of a warrior woman and less of a wimp in the books! Shame on Jackson – he’s always been a liar.
              Actually comedy, almost nothing in common – Jackson simply made it all “American-friendly” especially with the casting of teenage Liv Tyler as Arwen, one of his biggest mistakes!

              • Colonial Viper

                Hmmmm how can it be a mistake if it made so much moneyyyy?

                Right wing brain cannot compute…

                • comedy

                  What point are you trying to make or do you just love trolling around and spraying slogans all over the net ?

              • comedy

                Odd then that the movies have introduced so many to Tolkien and his works and that sales of the trilogy, the hobbit and his other works have been so strong.

                You could make the same accusations about the Narnia films bit IMO anything that causes someone watching the film to go and read the book means the film has been a success.

    • Vicky32 15.3

      “I will not be watching The Hobbit, wherever it’s filmed”
      Me neither, and my son told me yesterday, that he also is not interested… The actions of Jackson, Boyens and Walsh leave a foul taste in our mouths. What a bunch of Gollums they are!

  15. Roflcopter 16

    Your whole argument about tax breaks is a total fail.

    Warners already had offers of better tax breaks elsewhere for the film prior to this whole fiasco, but still chose to shoot in NZ.

    If it moves offshore, the union has single-handedly been responsible for wiping $500m of investment capital out of the NZ economy, much of which gets spent by workers across a vast number of other industries (of which many contain a vast number of union registered members), has screwed the film industry in the future and tourism $$$ falling away.

    The union’s blind ideology in supporting an australian union sticking it’s nose in NZ’s affairs has led to this. Helen Kelly stated that Richard Taylor’s technicians had been played like a fiddle last night, but the reality is the CTU has been played like a fiddle by the Autsralian union who had no other goal than to screw the NZ film industry in the hope of ressurecting a dying industry in Australia so that they would have some semblance of relevance again. Why is the Australian film industry dying? For exactly the same reasons we are seeing here.

    • wobble 16.1

      No. The Australian film industry is dying because Australian films are shit.

      We’re trying to maintain some basic standards here.

      • Roflcopter 16.1.1

        The quality of their films are a separate debate, but I agree with you 100% they are shit.

        • Cnr Joe

          shite indeed.
          and now theres a call to write/wangle a prominent womans role into the hobbit.
          why the phuck do they not just go and write their own stuff – really show what they can do (or not)

          captcha ‘directed’ heh

    • Richard 16.2

      Warners already had offers of better tax breaks elsewhere for the film prior to this whole fiasco, but still chose to shoot in NZ.

      I doubt whether you you know whether that is true or not.

      Certainly, they had not announced a decision to film elsewhere. What precisely the producers have or have not decided, and when they decided it is unknown to the likes of me and you.

      The more that this goes on, the more it looks like Warners (or whoever) had long ago decided that would like to film elsewhere (or they wanted to create the serious possibility that they would — in order to win concessions from the government). The union action was just a useful pretext.

      I think that there is a very good possibility that Key will offer some concession to keep the Hobbit here. Warners will take this, and thus “save” a few tens of millions on production. And some Warner’s executive will receive a bonus. That’s what this is really about.

  16. Carol 17

    Ha Ha. Walsh & Boyens are talking on Nat Rad. They are saying that the NZ actors’ union has ceded their power to an overseas (Aussie) Union…… meanwhile they say that Warners in the US will ultimately make the decision about where the Hobbit will be filmed…..

    Spot the contradiction…..?

    • Roflcopter 17.1

      No contradiction, Warners are paying for it.

      What investment does the Oz union have in the film, or this country for that matter? Absolutely none.

      • Carol 17.1.1

        The contradiction remains. Yes, Warners is pulling the strings. And what interest does Warners have in any substantial or long-term benefits for NZ? The Hobbit producers have sold their souls to an overseas multinational corporate. And they’ve done this by selling NZ workers as low cost, with weak union protections coupled with some government financial incentives. They have taken the issues and stakes into the international arena, leaving NZ workers open to manipulation by extremely powerful off-shore interests.

        So now the actors have got some support from offshore to give them a bit more clout than they have on their own, and to provide some protection from being left totally exposed to offshore coporate power? It’s a pretty understandable response.

        • sam

          They have $500m reasons of interest.

          I’m pretty sure if you were investing $500m, then you’d want to be sure that it was not going to put at risk. Especially during times which are seeing other studios in financial crisis and facing possible merger.

      • Bright Red 17.1.2

        there is no aussie union involved. Actors’ Equity is a NZ union.

        • Joe Bloggs

          fuck me – that’s so revisionist and so typical of the left wing nut cases who defend the MEAA/AE actions

          • Colonial Viper

            Sorry mate, workers are going to stand firm against the corporate hacks for minimum standards and conditions. Get used to it.

            • Gosman

              Slight correction there.

              Soon to be ex-workers are trying to stand firm for misguided principles.

        • Nick C

          You obviously have no idea what you’re on about Bright Red. Have you heard of Simon Whipp? MEAA?

  17. Helen Kelly just confirmed that Jackson/Warners agreed with SPADA to the lifting of the ban but have held up the announcement.

    Good faith bargaining anyone?

    • Carol 18.1

      Yes, I’ve listened to both sides are claiming the other sides is playing games and not being honest. But it became clear to me that Boyens and Walsh have a mind-set that unquestionaby has bought into the big Hollywood transnational corporates, and is on the side of their power over the rights of ordinary Kiwi workers.

      They can keep their movies. I’m no longer interested. I will support Kiwi productions.

      • big bruv 18.1.1

        Bad news Carol.

        I hear that the Nat’s are going to make it compulsory for all Kiwis to watch the Hobbit, that should not bother you of course as you seem to be of the opinion that some people cannot make decisions for themselves.

      • pollywog 18.1.2

        So will international minimum standards be enforced on ‘local’ productions too ?

        if the ‘new rules’ are to be applied evenly and across the board then kiss the small budget local industry film productions goodbye as well.

        …at least we still got the 48.

      • salsy 18.1.3

        What is so terribly sad is that the MEAA are using the Hobbit to try unionise the NZ film industry. Believe me Carol, you wont be getting any more low budget movies i.e Boy etc after this happens – so you can forget about Kiwi productions all together my friend.

    • Crashcart 18.2

      “Helen Kelly just confirmed”????

      Surely you mean claimed? As the production company are claiming that the ban wasn’t lifted? The fact is neither is providing any proof to back up their “Claims”.

      Although I laughed when I saw the statements that the union want to keep it out of the press. The only people I have ever seen making statements in the press are Robin Melcolm and Ward-Lealand. Seems they are trying to repaint history in a way that suits them now.

    • Gosman 18.3

      So Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens are lying then?

  18. big bruv 19

    No Micky…you cannot spin this.

    The union movement stuffed this one, not Sir Peter or the Nat’s.

    I cannot wait to see the union leaders explain to the thousands of people who are now not going to be employed on the film just why they felt it was necessary to chase this production away.

    The creative work of the film industry built up over 40 years destroyed by the union movement.

    Well done guys.

    • HitchensFan 19.1

      Afraid I have to agree with Big Bruv for once.

      This is a f*cken shambles. And it will turn NZers against unions which ain’t good for Labour’s chances in 2011. Just when they were starting to get somewhere.

      Whatever the rights or wrongs, the union played this completely clumsily from a PR perspective and it’s backfired big time.


  19. Crashcart 20

    Why is it in yesterdays post on the teachers strikes one of the reasons the governments offer was bad was because the $1000 payment would be offered to all teachers which is an obvious attempt to undermine unions yet when the AE want to negotiate on behalf of film industry workers who don’t want to be represented by them it is a good thing.

    Choose an argument and stick to it. Its just a shame that young talent in this country is going to loose an opportunity to showcase their skills on the world stage that people like Karl Urban got. The hurt is not only to our economy.

  20. M 21

    Sick to death of the word “flexible”, where the workers are concerned it is just another way of saying willing to be butt shagged by the business/management.

    Good on the actors if they refuse to be catamites for out and out greed.

    For all the others connected with the film that are complaining that the actors have ruined it for them – they’ll be coming for you next. The lack of tax breaks has been turned around and repackaged as “troublesome actors”.

    Sheesh, Brownlee needs to grow a conscience – maybe him sounding sick is the genesis of that.

    • Roflcopter 21.1

      Your argument would have merit, if it weren’t for the fact that they were all getting better pay and conditions than their off-shore union counterparts.

      Come back with facts, and shove the union ideology rhetoric up your nose.

      • M 21.1.1

        Come back with facts, and shove the union ideology rhetoric up your nose.

        Given the intermittent nature of their careers – you first!

    • Gosman 21.2

      Yes the actors can go back to serving Coffees for minimum wage rather than earning the thousands that they were going to get from the work. At last they will have their principles.

  21. Sanctuary 22

    The LOTR series was made here because we were the cheapest place with the best tax breaks and most compliant & skilled workforce around. The exchange rate (never mind the wages) has ensured we are no longer the cheapest. Now our workforce is no longer the most compliant either.

    Listening – or rather reading, since Peter Jackson now appears to believe he is Sauriman the White and won’t leave Isengard in the Waiarapa to do anything as lowly as be interviewed by the Hobbit press – their primary complaint is that New Zealand does not provide “certainty and stability in the workforce” and is now an “unsafe place to shoot” (quotes from Fran Walsh & Philla Boyens on RNZ right now). That sounds like the typical sort of blame shifting whining we’ve grown very used to from all New Zealand employers over the last twenty years.

    It seems to me there are two things at play here. One is Peter Jackson’s excessive arrogance and totally over the top aggression in relation to perfectly reasonable requests to bargain a collective agreement. This reflects both the sneering and high handed arrogance that has grown to be rife in the New Zealand boss class over the last twenty five years, and the virulent anti-unionism of Hollywood (no matter that the US film workforce is highly unionised!).

    The second is a power play for bigger tax breaks from central government, to the point where (like LOTR) Kiwi battlers on struggle street will actually end up paying for the hanger, contents and airfield of Peter Jackson’s new Fokker squadron.

    As a general observation, the viciousness of the squabbling over this is incredible. Watching a bunch of self-important hoity-toity creative types from the middle class sending nasty emails to each other from their iPads and attacking each other on the radio and the telly and in the paper is comedy gold – normally the tantrums of so many self important people is kept safely walled off in the compulsive secrecy of the HR or marketing departments of large corporates. There is no class war here – they wouldn’t know class solidarity if it bit them on the arse. Ironically, for a class of people who like to elevate themselves to the lofty heights of being the “professional class” the only person who has sounded remotely sober and professional in all this has been Helen Kelly.

    And really, at the end of the day, this is just the Auckland V8 supercar debate on a global scale, with a foreign outfit looking to find the best deal for themselves by playing bidders off against each other – only the V8’s are for bogans – The Hobbit is all about the egoes of people who exclusively buy Apple products.

    The real debate the country and the actors need to have here is if we want to have a film industry on the terms of Hollywood and Lord Sauriman of Waiarapa. If we do, then fine – give them their tax breaks, and the actors can just shut the fuck up and be grateful with whatever they are given.

    • Gosman 22.1

      Do you have any EVIDENCE that NZ was the cheapest country to make the LOTR films?

      Eastern Europe has been competitive for a number of years now.

      • Lanthanide 22.1.1

        The fact that they made the films here. Obviously.

        “for a number of years now.”

        Yes, remember that LotR was made back in 1998 or so. It may be cheap “now”, but wasn’t necessarily “then”.

        captcha: locations

        • Carol

          It was cheap back then. The use of the label of Kiwis as “Mexicans with cell phones” was being used by US movie people back then.

          • Gosman

            Evidence please?

            What were the comparable rates in somewhere like Ireland/UK/Australia/Eastern Europe for example?

    • pollywog 22.2

      Do you want a whole grape or half a watermelon ?

  22. prism 23

    This matter does not reflect well on unions and those who have a union-first telescope vision. The actions for this aggressive approach by divas with feelings of entitlement who have a profile in the industry and can presumably get good parts and good money, and some activists who probably have not even had the experience of finance in buying a house is support that has been toxic to the industry. The situation is close to being a plot which Outrageous Fortune could use, giving them another popular season.

    The actions of the union have led to a loss of confidence by the company financing the film which can’t afford delays by people who appear willing to hold the film to ransom and endanger jobs. And unions sometimes do this. They will stand on principle trying to establish certain future conditions and are prepared to sacrifice the present workers wages and even jobs.

    It can result in them claiming victory at the cost of defeat for the present workers. An Australian union organised action amongst unions around the world. Simon Whipp is said to have initiated that. Australia of course has nothing to lose but the union and its activist can profit in their desired profile of being proud, loud roosters. Unfortunately they turn out to be turkeys for NZ. The union business has been badly handled and this should be a lesson for any others thinking of joining Oz unions in world industries that are mobile.

    • Gosman 23.1

      Where is Simon Whipp?

      Why is the Union instigator for all this hiding in the shadows?

      Is this par for the course for Union organisers?

      • big bruv 23.1.1

        He does not care Gosman; he is still getting paid.

        • grumpy

          Also, he gave an interview in Hollywood magazine and claimed that this dispute had nothing to do with pay or workers rights but “unionising the NZ film industry”. In other words – politics!

    • Roflcopter 23.2

      NZ unions sucked in to committing economic sabotage on behalf of their Australian counterparts.

      They will not be able to spin their way out of this.

      • Bright Red 23.2.1

        NZ Actor’s equity is a New Zealand union representing New Zealand actors. In what way have they been ‘sucked in’ by MEAA?

        The workers’ pay claims can probaly measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or low millions. This is a $660 million project that will make hundreds of millions in profits.

        Like Robyn Malcolm said ‘we’re talking about less than the coffee budget’

        This isn’t really about the workers’ claims, it is about tax breaks. That’s the big money.

        • Gosman

          So why didn’t Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens state that this issue was about Tax breaks. They did state that the Union’s actions have caused the damage though. Are they lying then?

          • Bright Red

            what damage has the union caused? the workers have asked for a better pay and conditions that are nothing in terms of the budget of the film and they have lifted their blacklisting.

            Now, Wingnut are saying the mere threat of blacklisting was enough and Warners will steer clear becuase of it. Bollocks Warners is based in Holywood, the most unionised acting town in the world.

            Follow the money, Gosman. What really affects warner’s profits for this – a tiny labour cost increase or tax breaks (worth $200 million on LOTR)

            • pollywog

              the workers have asked for a better pay and conditions that are nothing in terms of the budget of the film

              forget teh budget of the movie.

              what are these improved conditions compared to previous films ?

              and how much of a percentage pay rise compared to inflation ?

              and will these be enforced for all films produced both locally and overseas ?

              • Colonial Viper

                Just wondering why inflation should be the measuring stick instead of say…a fair days pay/conditions for the exact same work done somewhere else?

                • pollywog

                  dunno eh CV…i’m just using the gov’t/teachers pay dispute as a yardstick.

                  but get this, I’m working a festival at the moment, rigging and flying in a theatre. I could, would and should get wayyy more if i was doing the same shit on broadway but guess what ???

                  I’m not in new york, i dont have the overheads of new york prices to meet so i’m working for less and i can live with that. In fact i’m getting about a fifth of what i’d normally get working in movieland doing roughly the same shit.

                  and i’ve already landed 2 more jobs, one in Auckland with the potential to tour with a company overseas and one stage managing a premier live event because of it.

                  Care to answer my questions now ?

            • Pascal

              What broke this was the threat of industrial action and unions stopping work if their demands are not met.

              What do you think the cost would be to the production company if they had to pay for everyone while a tiny Australian union with 80 members stopped work on one of the biggest productions ever for a few months?

              After they had already invested here?

              Would they be insane to take this up? Of course. The union has just sold all reasonable NZ’ers up the river. Thank you.

        • prism

          Robyn Malcolm should do more coffee drinking and thinking and talk after taking that coffee break. The way that the unions have acted in calling for a ban on work by overseas unions (with their own agendas) has been a major part of the concern felt by the film makers. Their large project so painstakingly constructed has been held to ransom by the people who are most dependent on it for their income and continuing skills and reputation. It raises the spectre of more in the future, the chicken entrails don’t indicate a favourable outcome so let’s go somewhere else with a surer, clearer way forward.

          Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Instead of concentrating on face to face negotiations doing the iron hand in the velvet glove so that the best conditions could be extracted they allowed an alien into the negotiations! In comes the hooded highwayman with his sinister sense of menace and his big gun! Ned Kelly rides again. I’m getting carried away here, I should be writing scripts for the media, farces probably. If you are going to do a highwayman act then it should be done smoothly and effectively. No good if the guy with the money jumps out of the carriage and rides away with the goodies.

          antispam – cost! (Wonder if antispam is a sort of antipasto but where you have to eat your words.)

      • Colonial Viper 23.2.2

        Workers will not settle for worse conditions and lower pay than they deserve while others at the top make an absolute mint.

        Back your fellow NZ worker for a change instead of the corporate executives.

        • pollywog

          For fucks sake, these are actors we’re talking about !!!

          not drain layers and cleaners and workers have been settling for worse conditons while their corporate overlords have been macking it since day one.

          jeez…which country on what planet do you think you’re living on ?

  23. Carol 24

    I am interested to know more about how this dispute fits into the neoliberal crash and the related economic and financial problems in the US. It seems Warner’s is pulling the strings creating more heat than light and intense domestic frictions within NZ, and it has something to do with the crash of MGM. Are Hollywwod productions under threat internationally right now? Are they also trampling all over US workers and unions?

    As with all NZ investments and enterprises, I think NZ needs to be looking more towards having a movie and TV industry that is controlled more strongly from within the country. We have a lot of expertise and skills now in this area.

    Weta seems to be (one of) the biggest areas of expertise where NZ can produce stuff for people overseas. Maybe that is the area to concentrate on more, as well as producing more productions for local and a niche international audience (as indicated by the success of Flight of the Conchords?

    • Gosman 24.1

      Until the Union movement wants to get in on the action at Weta and stuffs that industry up as well.

      • Colonial Viper 24.1.1

        Why are you still blaming workers. Management and owners have deliberately engineered this situation, destroying trust in the industry.

        Back your fellow NZ workers in getting minimum employment standards for once, instead of being a disloyal corporate hack.

    • Colonial Viper 24.2

      I think NZ needs to be looking more towards having a movie and TV industry that is controlled more strongly from within the country. We have a lot of expertise and skills now in this area.

      Spot on.

      A NZ owned high value indy film industry.

      • prism 24.2.1

        A NZ film industry successfully run by a union co-operative. Go for it, it sounds good. The creative people that I have come across do not create confidence in their ability to manage projects that don’t have definite parameters, It seems to me that they very easily get lost in individual peripheral views and coalesce in some decision for action based on feelings but ignoring reality. But what I have observed may be isolated incidents, the exception to the rule.

      • pollywog 24.2.2

        aimed at who ?

        No one in the rest of the world and only the most masochistic of local film buffs want to see a constant stream of low budget kiwi only movies starring the same old hacks and subsidised by the taxpayer through the Film Commission, Creative NZ and NZ on air.

        • Carol

          It doesn’t have to be Kiwi only. Just have more controls over local productions & inputs. It could also include co-productions. The movie and TV industry is fragmenting in the digital environment. This is where the Hollywood blockbusters are struggling to maintain dominance, with ever more flashier productions, whille trying to find ways to drive costs down. They are the ones in danger of being out-moded.

          A smart approach to the NZ industry would look more towards what can be accomplished in a variety of niche markets, rather than selling our souls to a Hollywood with an uncertain future.

        • prism

          Ooh pollywog that’s a hard blow. Truly there have been some very good small films from NZ haven’t there. And people have to start somewhere, with small budgets. Are you saying that once they have done that then NZ having a good reputation as being can-dos who are successful and make money will bring more willing investment for other bigger and more varied projects?

  24. ray 25

    Micky says “Helen Kelly just confirmed that Jackson/Warners agreed with SPADA to the lifting of the ban but have held up the announcement.”
    The Union has called for a ban surely they are the ones to announce the lifting
    Certainly the hard Union people would never believe it from the Bosses

  25. sdm 26

    Helen Kelly needs to front, issue an immediate apology, thank Peter Jackson for all the good works he has done for New Zealand, and say she is totally committed to having the film here. She has made a blunder of unimaginable consequence, and she needs to put it right immediately. All she will have achieved is helping to increase unemployment.

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      Jackson has blundered, Jackson’s stock has dropped like a rock, the corporate hacks like yourself better get used to the fact that workers are determined to get the fair minimum employment standards and protections that they deserve.

      • smhead 26.1.1

        You mean the unions are determined that workers get no work and no protections and no employment standards. Meanwhile Labour and the CTU applaud an Australian union for committing economic sabotage on NZ.

        • Colonial Viper

          Why don’t you stop being a disloyal corporate hack and back NZ workers for a change smh?

          Do you really want your children working without the same minumum conditions and protections as Australian workers would get?

          Because the working environment is so shit here in NZ at the moment thats where a lot of our most talented young people are going. And you are not helping.

          • Pascal

            I’m guessing that is why you are backing an Australian Union attempting to negotiate an illegal contract in New Zealand and, with CTU support, costing us the Hobbit?

            Because you are so concerned about the Australian influence on New Zealand?

            What do you gain from supporting Australians over New Zealanders?

            • Colonial Viper

              Ah, Australians have better pay and conditions that would be good for NZ workers to have here, I thought you wanted to learn a few things from them and close the gap?

              Or are you just a corporate hack unwilling to back your fellow NZ workers?

              • Pascal

                Is that your pitiful reply?

                Tell us again how an Australian union with 80 members have, with CTU and Labour support, managed to cost the NZ economy $500,000,000.

                Which does not include anything purchased by the people working on this production. Or the future tourism benefits to our country.

                Do you know how much we could have done if the CTU hadn’t supported this Australian union?

                I’m guessing you’d rather have $0 than $500,00,000. How stupid could you be?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Hmmmm, workers aren’t being offered $500M though, are they Pascal?

                  Anyways this is all about Jackson and the corporates gunning for tens of millions in extra tax breaks from the Government. This is nothing to do with union demands for a few hundred thousand dollars worth of *minimum* terms and conditions for workers.

      • Bored 26.1.2

        Jacksons stock has dropped for sure. Might be nice if he was to come round to my place (and every other NZ tax payers door) and say “Thanks guys for being good hardworking tax payers whose generosity gave me my breaks I needed in the developing NZ film industry”. Thank you and thank you again”!

        Instead its the usual “I deserve, and deserve more “attitude when face with others asking for a fair deal. He can stick his “Sir” title up his jacksey.

      • The Baron 26.1.3

        Oh well, it soon won’t matter any more CV. Jackson and his stock will leave for someone else.

        Your oh so poorly paid film mates will go from $5,000 a week to $0.

        Maybe heaps of workers in associated industries will have to be let go because the contract goes with the film – more $0.

        No more lattes and cappucinos for film crews – more $0s for cafes.

        All for what, exactly? I thought this wasn’t about money? Well thats lucky then, because this looks like its gonna end with nobody getting any.

        I have never seen a moment more deserving of a slow clap.

      • big bruv 26.1.4


        Jackson’s stock has risen considerably among the average Kiwi.

        Middle NZ has seen organised shit stirring from the union movement over the last few weeks (no doubt on the orders of the Labour party) and they have had enough.

        Expect a huge backlash from middle NZ who just want to get on with it and not be used as pawns by the parasitic union movement.

        • grumpy

          Correct BB, with Andrew Little President of both the Labour Party and EPMU, it is obvious to all NZ that Labour is just the political wing of the unions.

          • Blighty

            of course Labour is the political wing of the labour movement. Clue’s in the name.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Time for a history lesson, grumpy. NZ Labour was born as the political wing of the NZ Unions and while it has broadened its support base considerably, it remains the party for working Kiwi’s, just as National remains the party for parasites.

            • grumpy

              Bullshit, maybe in Lee’s day but it has been selling itself as a more independent voice of the working classes/gays/maori/pasifika etc. etc.

              all that has been stripped bare with Little’s dual roles. It’s not the “voice of the workers” anymore – Just EPMU and CTU – and that’s why National has made inroads into Labours more traditional voters

        • Colonial Viper

          Jackson’s stock has risen considerably among the average Kiwi.

          You remind me of Bill and John saying that we are now all better off. Same tone of voice, inflection, everything.

          We’ll tell them what we really think of their claims next year.

        • freedom

          ” middle NZ- not be used as pawns by the parasitic union movement”
          yeah let’s leave them to the predatory agents of the freemarket, how’s that working out for you

    • Bright Red 26.2

      the day a union leader apologises for wanting Kiwi workers to have the same conditions as people from abroad they are working alongside would be a very sad day indeed.

      Anyone who thinks that Warner would move the site of its production over the tiny additional cost the workers are asking for needs their head read.

      This is all excuse making – the real reason they will move, if they move, if the exchange rate and the tax breaks.

      • The Baron 26.2.1

        Maybe she could try apologising for losing them all jobs instead then.

        Or destroying NZ’s film industry

        Either will do.

      • grumpy 26.2.2

        Wrong, if that were the case, the NZ workers would have a pay REDUCTION!

      • Pascal 26.2.3

        The real reason is because a tiny Australian union, with the support of the CTU and the Labour party, holds the power to stop a half a billion dollar production cold when they’re a few months into shooting.

        Which sane person would be forking out the kind of money it takes to run a production like this on idle while at the mercy of a greedy union?

        Would you risk your money on that?

  26. Pascal 27

    Gosman, you asked about pay rates. Some of the rates listed in the Herald reporting thus far shows NZ actors are typically paid quite a bit above the Screen Actor Guild minimum rates. This was also to be the first production in NZ where they would be receiving residuals. Plus all that money invested in our economy.

    Quoted from the Herald:

    “Sir Peter said fees New Zealand actors were paid favourably here compared to what they would receive overseas. An actor contracted to appear in a small supporting role would receive around NZ$5,000 per week, whereas the Screen Actor’s Guild of America’s published current minimum weekly rates for the same role is NZ$3,800, he said.”

    So we’re looking at what? Roughly 30% more than the SAG minimum? I’d certainly not complain about that type of renumeration.

    • Colonial Viper 27.1

      Laughable, quoting the boss saying that the boss himself is right.

      For one position on set, unverified by anyone else except by…the boss.

      • Pascal 27.1.1

        Where is the media reporting calling him on a lie? I couldn’t find anything. If a public figure with a “sir” in front of his name makes a claim like that and it is not refuted, especially when it could be fact checked easily by the media, I’m kind of more inclined to believe him.

        Especially over an unsubstantiated, socialist rant from somebody called “Colonial Viper”.

        In fact …

        “The controversy arose after the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance called for a worldwide boycott of the pre-quel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as Sir Peter had refused to enter into a union-negotiated agreement with the actors.”

        “The New Zealand Actor’s Equity, who operate as an autonomous part of the MEAA, have since acknowledged the Commerce Act prevents a union-negotiated agreement with performers who are independent contractors, following advice from the Attorney General Christopher Finlayson.”

        Illegal contracts? Hmmmm. You want Sir Peter Jackson and the production company to break the law?


        Why was this Australian Union trying so badly to ruin the NZ film industry when they had been advised any such contract would be against the Commerce Act?

        And you want to blame Sir Peter Jackson?

        Reality needs to set in mate.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Such a contract would not be against the Commerce Act. Arrangements like this are all over NZ industry. Ask a cabbie, or a courier driver or an IT technician. Standard minimum contracts are the norm and are not and never have been illegal. Don’t believe the hype, Pascal.

          • Pascal

            “following advice from the Attorney General Christopher Finlayson”

            The Voice of Reason, I tend to believe the Attorney General over you.

            • Blighty

              Finlayson is a national MP of course he sides with the bosses against workers.

              Finlayson, btw, has no official advice to back up his opinion. it is just his opinion.

            • The Voice of Reason

              More fool you, then. I’ve put up examples where this happens in NZ industry right now for tens of thousands of kiwis and you cling to Chris Finlayson. Shit, even John Key doesn’t listen to him, why should anyone else?

              • Maynard J

                They wanted to use contracts that are in line with union-negotiated ones. Finlayson was asked a narrow question about negotiating directly with teh union, and he gave the only answer on cue – a useless answer because the question was wrong.

                But this is part of National’s use of this to bash the unions – you won’t see your average RWNJ wondering why National don’t care about the film. At least the workers have a livelihood that they’re trying to protect. National have no excuse.

        • Colonial Viper

          I think Pascal’s Bookie should have a word with Pascal… 😀

    • sdm 27.2

      So given that we have established that at $5000 a week, the union is being overly greedy, maybe there is another game at play? Its funny how the unions only seem to do anything with National is in power. This will backfire on them though……NZ is about to get very very angry at the likes of Ms Kelly.

  27. John Gibson 28

    I love this line in the Wikipedia entry for Robyn Malcolm : “She has helped spearhead an actors union campaign to boycott the Hobbit film, putting the livelihood of many in the NZ film industry at risk. [3]”

  28. Joe Bloggs 29

    Two blue collar workers walking out of a steel mill in America are passed by a stretched limo carrying the company president:

    One says to the other:

    “One day, Comrade, we’ll own cars like that.”

    Two actors walking out of a film set in Wellington are passed by a stretched limo carrying Peter Jackson:

    One says to the other:

    “One day, Comrade, we’ll drag him down to our level”.

    Time for New Zealanders to wake up and change their attitudes towards success.

    • Colonial Viper 29.1

      Bloggs, NZ’ers have already figured out that success for the top 2% of the population while everyone else is left behind is not success for the country as a whole.

      Next year they are going to tell Bill and John that. Bring on the battle of 2011.

  29. Colonial Viper 30

    Looks to me like Gordon Campbell has picked it.

    Jackson and the corporates are beating up on NZ workers to try and get tens of millions more in tax breaks from the Government. This is not about a few hundred thousand dollars worth of minimum standards and conditions for NZ workers at all. Jackson and the corporates have their eyes on a much bigger prize, and shitting on NZ workers and unions just par on their course.

    Now it all makes sense.

    • Pascal 30.1

      Maybe you need to think a bit instead of just throwing slogans around.

      Production company wants to invest $500,000,000 in NZ for making the Hobbit.
      Production company has support infrastructure from Lord of the Rings SETUP in New Zealand.
      Australian Union / CTU attempts to negotiate illegal contract.
      Holds things up for 18 months and acts like spoiled children.

      What does the production company do?

      They take their money and their production elsewhere, where a small organisation with 80 members will not be able to hold up a $500,000,000 production that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a day to run.

      They lose their investment in all the Lord of the Rings infrastructure here and will have to rebuild that elsewhere.

      And New Zealand loses out on $500,000,000 of money flowing through our economy. All the people who could have had work on that gets $0. The restaurants, cafes and tourist industry gets $0.

      All thanks to an Australian union with CTU support trying to force an illegal contract on the production company and threatening the production.

      Good old union greed just cost a lot of good, honest New Zealand people money. Money that would have helped us all in this recession.

      Thank you unions!

  30. Blighty 31

    Have any of the Righties here or the Government ever backed any workers trying to get higher wages?


    All the detail stuff is beside the point. This is about capital vs labour, right vs left.

    The Right wants wages to be low so profits can be higher.

    The Left wants workers to get a fairer share of the wealth they produce.

    • Pascal 31.1

      If you tend to restrict your thinking to slogans, yes.

      If, however, you think in terms of reality we’ve just lost $500,000,000 for New Zealand, promotional value, tourism and years of riding the wave of the Hobbit thanks to an Australian union attempting to negotiate an illegal contract with CTU support.

      Do you really think that is Left versus Right? What do you think the payoff is for the Australian union now they’ve managed to scuttle the Hobbit being made in NZ?

      • Colonial Viper 31.1.1

        Its really funny (even naive) that you think this fight is over a few hundred thousand dollars worth of workers’ minimum terms and conditions.

        Jackson and the corporates are using NZ workers as an excuse to bail the Government up for tens of millions more in tax breaks for The Hobbit.

        Thats where the big money is, and that’s what this is about.

        That and Jackson’s ego.

        • Pascal

          I don’t.

          Do you know how to read?

          I think it is because the production company is too afraid of a union being able to stall production and costing them millions.

          And an illegal Australian union with CTU support has just driven them overseas with this bad faith posturing from the union.

        • prism

          C.Viper Try forgetting the envy of Jackson’s money and discussion of his ego, and think about egg. The golden egg that is the Hobbit movie/s – there are/were going to be two – then the breakfast, lunch and dinner egg that feeds the worker on these wage-paying JOBS.

          Turn your sourness about imagined ego into concern for real egg. Your argument appears to be on a one-track line to nowhere. Don’t try and drag everyone else behind you.

      • grumpy 31.1.2

        And…. hundreds of workers set to be employed on the movie now will not, due to the actions of 80 who never would have been.

        How can CTU ignore the voices of 1500 workers over the 80 who were not even affected?

        why was the Wellington Actor’s Equity meeting outcome ignored and overidden by the Auckland one?

        Unionism? Bullshit!

        • Colonial Viper

          Unions are getting stronger the worse workers are being treated.

          And this isn’t about union demands for minimum terms and conditions. It is about tens of millions of dollars worth of extra tax breaks the corporates are pressuring Government for.

          • grumpy

            How about a union to protect workers from their union. I’m sure the out of work Hobbit actors would join.

          • The Baron

            You don’t get it CV – the Union you love so much represents 80 people – and it has just shat all over 1,500 other workers to get what it wants.

            You think those workers will be lining up to be members if this production is lost?

    • Roflcopter 31.2

      Fail… they were already getting more than any union negotiated contract.

  31. indiana 32

    Best commentary on the situation can be found here: http://publicaddress.net/6916#post6916

    • Gosman 32.1

      Excellent informative opinion piece on the situation. Just shows you how Union actions can be damaging and have been in this situation

    • pollywog 32.2

      oh hardly indy…

      Rusty B hauls his fat arse off the fence to state the obvious yet again…PFFFFT

      best commentary on the situation was some of my very first here and here

      captcha : locations ( locations, locations !!!)


  32. Gosman 33

    Why did the meeting last night get called off?

    Was Helen Kelly involved in the decsion? If so is she afraid of robust debate?

    • grumpy 33.1

      Surely a rhetorical question Gosman. Of course all Lefties are afraid of robust debate. It\’s just their more honest hard core that appear on these pages.

  33. The Voice of Reason 34

    The CTU have just put this out:

    Helen Kelly, CTU President, said today that it is important that some facts about the union stance on the Hobbit are placed before the public.

    · The union is seeking basic terms and conditions such as hours, breaks, overtime payments etc.

    · The union has always been prepared to agree those conditions as an industry standard rather than a collective agreement.

    · The union advised Warners on Sunday (their time) that they had asked the Screen Actors Guild to lift any “don’t work” orders in place. A statement has been prepared by Equity but Warners have asked to control the time of the release and have delayed several days. We understand Wingnut were aware of this when they met with Technicians last night but failed to pass on this information.

    · MEAA (Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance New Zealand Incorporated) is a registered union in New Zealand. They affiliate to the CTU in New Zealand and are a trans-Tasman organisation. We are used to having hundreds of Trans Tasman businesses in NZ and that appears to be perfectly acceptable. Many of our performers work in both countries so a Trans Tasman union makes sense.

    “These films can be made here”, said Helen Kelly. “Following a meeting last week, which included Hon Gerry Brownlee, good progress is being made on developing an industry standard through improving the content and form of the current “Pink Book”. Last night’s meeting was ironically to begin discussions with Equity members on that process. It will now have to be rescheduled.

    “Helen Kelly said NZ Performers want the movie made here as much as anyone, but let’s get all the facts on the table about taxes, subsidies, and other issues – rather than just blaming the union for asking to meet on basic terms and conditions”.

  34. Roflcopter 35

    Where’s the all glorious Labour Party on this? Chicken Little done a runner, not a word said.

    They’re conspicuous by their absence, and they realise they are in it up to their necks.

    Unions & Labour…. promoting economic sabotage for power, never mind the consequences.. the very people they say they represent are left unemployed.

    • Gosman 35.1

      I’ve left a comment on Red alert to see if someone has the gumption to make a statement on this either way. I suspect the Labour Party will be conspicuous by their absence on this one though. So much for sticking up for the ‘workers’ eh.

      • grumpy 35.1.1

        Which way will Little go? Will he support the soon to be out of a job workers, or the political ambitions of the EPMU? …and what about Goff? …He will probably just do what he’s told and keep his head down.
        With Labour being the political arm of EPMU and CTU, Goff needs to do something to try and distance Labour parlimentary wing from the stupid CTU leadership or risk being considered just as useless.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Fantasise much, grumpy?

          • grumpy

            The Hobbitt is a fantasy, just not “our” fantasy any more. Unfortunately the unions are harsh ugly reality. How can they justify taking workers hard earned cash to work against their interests?

            • Colonial Viper

              This is about tens of millions of Govt tax breaks the corporates and Jackson are trying to strong arm for themselves. Not a few hundred thousand for workers’ minimum terms and conditions.

              • grumpy

                Either way totally irrelevant. Higher Tax Breaks are available elsewhere. What this does though, is give National the opportunity to offer higher breaks and appear to be the “worker’s friend” saving jobs that were lost by the unions.

                The best slant on your comment is that the unions are just not up to the job.

              • Gosman

                Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh on Radio NZ National said this decision had nothing to do with tax breaks. Of course you think they are liars because they are succesful business people. All successful business people must be liars according to your thinking.

    • prism 35.2

      Thats a bit strong Rof. The unions are not in concert and the NZ one cannot turn around and slag the Oz one – it’s not politic to do so, there must be solidarity. NZ unions would be trying to help our workers, unfortunately ineptly.

  35. Anthony C 36

    I bet Coutts and Butterworth wish they had a union to blame their purely financial decisions on.

    GW Peter Jackson!

  36. Anyone with their head up Jackson’s arse will have a somewhat limited view of reality. Jackson specialises in fantasy. It must be crowded up there while you all wait for Jackson to shit on you too.

  37. grumpy 38

    Kelly….., isn’t that an Irish name? The same country that the Hobbit is being moved to….???

    You don’t think that might be more than a coincidence?

    • The Voice of Reason 38.1

      grumpy? Isn’t that an Elvish, sorry, Dwarvish name? The same fantasy that the Hobbit’s makers are peddling now …????

      You don’t think that might be more than a coincidence?

  38. Big Dog 39

    I’m a union man from way back. But I’m also a realist and believe on calling it how I see it.The Unions fucked up big time on this one. (I’m disappointed with what money and power has done to PJ also.)

  39. Carol 40

    Now John Key is stepping in and saying he’ll talk with Warners and that it isn’t about subsidies…. yadda yadda yadda… repeating the Jackson & co line, and blaming it on the unions.


    ie he says, the unions have undermined confidence in NZ and Key will talk to Warners, not about dollars and cents, but to restore confidence in NZ.

    How convenient for Key when he is under attack by a wide range of unions. He could be just a canny opportunist. But the timing of this, plus the same line being repeated by the Jackson team & the government seems a little too much of a coincidence.

    Goff, you need to step up decisively & wth impact!

    • Gosman 40.1

      Yes, although I suspect we will be waiting a long time for any definitive statement from Goff on the topic. Probably a late night press release saying how the Labour Party are supportive of NZ workers rights and the NZ film industry. Anything else is just going to richochet badly on them in support.

    • grumpy 40.2

      You guys gave Key this opportunity – it’s a win-win for him. If the Hobbit gets back online, he’s the hero.. if not, the Unions and Labour are the villains.

      What sort of naive fools to CTU employ?

  40. bobo 41

    I wonder if any documents come up confirming production was decided to go to a cheaper currency location well before the whole aussie union episode. An off the record chat with Guillermo Del Toro would be interesting.

  41. crashcart 42

    Why was this film which could help our economy so much used as the pawn in a game that didn’t need to be played? SPADA offered to negotiate on the Pink Book 2 years ago and AE refused. For those who don’t know the pink book is what sets down the minimum working conditions for actors. Now two years later these conditions have been used as the reason for this action. Threats of stopping a production (the stopping would cost the production millions so ignore the only cost being the coffee budget bollocks) used to force negotiations with Peter Jackson when they should of been with SPADA who tried to organise them 2 years earlier. Peter Jackson and Warners are in no position to negotiate conditions for other productions. That is the roll of SPADA. The AE just felt they had a big band stage to try and black mail SPADA with and now want to blame Jackson when everything has gone sour.

    Please stop blaming tax cuts. The fact is that Warners could have decided right at the start that they will get better tax incentives in Ireland. They would have also got high quality people. The reason they decided to make it in NZ is that we have the same high quality people but it is also the place where Lord of TH rings was made. They were showing loyalty to this country when they didn’t need to (probably prompted to by Jackson). They had accepted the extra tax cost and were going ahead. It wasn’t until AE tried to use their production to force another entity all together (SPADA) to negotiate that they moved on.

    Well done AE. You just shot our economy in the foot for something you were able to do 2 years ago without this risk.


    • Colonial Viper 42.1

      This is a strategy by Jackson and Warner to get tens of millions of dollars of tax cuts off the Government, not about a few hundred thousand dollars to give workers minimum terms and conditions. Follow the big money, they see an opportunity to score some big dollars, and that is what they are doing.

      • Carol 42.1.1

        It could well just be opportunism on Key’s part, but he’s certainly spinning it to undermine unions.

        • Murray

          Key doesn’t need to spin it to undermine unions they are undermining themselves.
          Why is Helen Kelley conspiring with Australian unions to destroy New Zealand Jobs
          She Should resign and let the grownups sort it out
          Shes clearly out of her depth.

          • Blighty

            what australian union? NZ Actors’ equity is kiwi

          • Colonial Viper

            Helen Kelly is a fighter for NZ workers, you’re just a corporate hack.

            If the CTU has underestimated one thing: its how dirty Jackson and his corporate backers were willing to fight, but I guess its not surprising since I suspect that Key gave them the tacit go ahead to try and break the union.

            That end result would suit both Peter Jackson and John Key perfectly.

            • Rob

              The key points is that no one here is blaming the workers , we are blaming unions . Unions are not workers, they may have been once , but the last time any of of these people actually did any work outside mouthing off and thumping fists on boardroom tables was many years ago.

      • Crashcart 42.1.2

        Are you finding the time line hard to understand CV???? Warners and Jackson could have saved those millions right at the start by going directly to Ireland. There was nothing forcing them to make the movie here. They choose to accept that cost and come here. Fast forward to now and directly as AE stirs up trouble for and issue that they have no control over (Warners and Jackson don’t write or edit the pink book) and we loose the movie.

        It doesn’t matter how many times you spout your conspiracy theory with no semblance of backing it just won’t be true. AE stuffed this up pure and simple when they could have got what they wanted 2 years ago with out messing around a $500,000,000 injection into our flagging economy.

      • grumpy 42.1.3

        Hey CV, just look at what Key has to offer Warners now as a jobs subsidy, made necessary to save workers jobs from Union incompetence.

        What a hero!

  42. Gosman 43

    I love the conspiracy theories being postulated here. This will just highlight to others how out of touch with reality members of the left are.

    • Colonial Viper 43.1

      The Left are made of the middle class workers, the blue collar, those in low socioeconomic groups. I think we know what hard reality is mate. maybe not the champagne reality of the wealthy, but real enough.

  43. Francisco Hernandez 44

    Long time Labour Party supporter here.

    Also have a place in the student union movement.

    My opinion is that – on the surface of it. It seems to me that the AE guild have fucked up.

    It doesn’t matter what the reality is. Politics is largely about perception.

    The union movement doesn’t need bad PR right now. Yesterday I attended a 1000 person union rally to protest fair rights at work. Around New Zealand 25000 people attended rallies protesting unfair workers rights law. That was good PR.

    Following that – a bunch of greedy “Australian Unions losing $500M worth of jobs to East Europe”

    My humble opinion, is that the CTU have really dropped the ball here.

    I mean – this could be potentially catastrophic. Like Labour could seriously lose the election next year due to the indulegence/tactical misjudgement of the union movement.

    I can see attack ads “Labour’s bully boy mates in the union movement have lost Kiwi jobs”

    I’m sorry to be rambling and incoherent but it’s really upsetting this kind of bad PR so close to a spate of good PR and when the Union movement needs to be doing all it takes to win public support against the National government.

    The Left does not need a militant tendency. Not here and not so close to an election.

    Catchpa; Errors = union movement.

    • Carol 44.1

      Francisco, I’m angry too. But it was always certain that Key & National would throw everything at the resurgent left, and do it by harnessing their links to corporate power and manipulation via the MSM.

      I’m not sure what the CTU could have done differently, except maybe not agreeing to Warners’ releasing the lift of the acting boycott.

      Labour and the left (Greens etc) now has to step up, and be sharper in getting the word out about workers rights and issues, and providing an alternative and effective narrative to the one Key, NACT and the Jackson team are spinning.

      • grumpy 44.1.1

        Labour will avoid this issue like the plague.

        Goff is not stupid.

      • Colonial Viper 44.1.2

        Agree that this unfortunate situation is a gift to the NAT PR spinmeisters and union bashers. Have to wonder why Jackson and Boyen are still making such aggressive public statements. How does that help resolving the dispute?

        Time to put the hammer down on National. More than likely this was about tens of millions of dollars worth of tax cuts being pursued by Jackson and Warner Bros from the NZ govt. Not a few hundred thousand dollars worth of minimum terms and conditions for NZ workers.

        And the other argument is: we have to own more of our industries. Situations like this is the reality of what economic sovereignty is all about. Owning your own future and making your own decisions, not having to accept whatever decision comes out of LA or New York. Or the Wairarapa.

        • Crashcart

          CV why do you ignore evidence in the form of a time line that disputes what you aer saying just to spout the same trash with out providing any evidence your self. It is gett stupid.

          • Rob

            Essentially because he is in dreamland. I get so annoyed when people confuse with unions with work or workers. I dont think I have ever seen a unionist do anything , it would be very interesting to know if CV or any of the others actually do anything at all that is productive and have any true skin or investment in any positive activity in this country. My guess is that they are as they come across, sideline wingers.

    • I agree Francisco that the timing is bad and not what the labour movement needs. I am suspicious about the hysteria though and I wonder what the real agenda is here.

      If Warner/Wingnut manage to get a bigger tax cut out of it then the agenda will be clear.

      • Gosman 44.2.1

        With the added bonus of the Union movement being hung out to dry.

        Too funny.

        • mickysavage

          The RWNJs have had a very bad few weeks. This is their chance to vent some spleen and blame the union movement for something. What better way to try and avoid the mess this current government is creating.

          Capcha confuse!!!

          • comedy

            Yes that’s what it’s all about Micky……. fuck and people were actually deluded enough to elect a fuckwit like you, extraordinary.

          • Gosman

            Yep, but with Labour tying itself even closer to the Union movement this presents a golden opportunity for the right to present to the electorate the downside of leftist pro-union policies.

            I notice on Red Alert that there isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Helen Kelly’s performance on this matter. More an attempt to back away from being idenitifed too closely with her.

            I thought you lefties were big on solidarity?

    • HitchensFan 44.3

      Francisco. Yep. All the hard work of people like you has just been undone by 80 drama queens. Thanks very much.

    • jbanks 44.4

      I mean – this could be potentially catastrophic. Like Labour could seriously lose the election next year due to the indulegence/tactical misjudgement of the union movement.

      Your poor spelling was a clue, but this part really gave it away. Not a bad troll, I’ll give it a 6 out of ten.

    • SHG 44.5

      Russell Brown:

      it was telling that the CTU’s Helen Kelly said on Nightline last night that the Equity meeting had been called for members to discuss “what they wanted in terms of terms and conditions”.

      You’re saying that after all this — you still don’t know what you want?


  44. fraser 45

    while AE seem to have approached this in a rather inept manner, what i find really odd is the way everyones forgotten the tortured history to date of this project. Its been on and off the rocks, back and forth for years now.

    theres been battles over who the director will be, theres been financial collapse theres been legal battles over film rights. it hasnt been smooth sailing from day one. For along time the battle was between PJ and the US studio

    not to forget that there is a huge amount of politics, money, power plays and egos involved across the board (and the globe) from parties that dont always align into a capital vs labour construct.

    IMO – this is just the latest event in a bloody messy saga – a trilogy even. It might be the straw that breaks the camels back for the US backers – but it would be foolish to ignore the projects history and claim its been uplifted solely because of an industrial dispute.

    • The Voice of Reason 45.1

      Spot on, Fraser. One director has already jumped ship, there were delays while deciding if it should be 3D, MGM’s near bankrupcy almost completely scuppered it as well. Jackson can blame the actors all he likes. If it doesn’t happen here, or it doesn’t happen at all,, it won’t be because NZ workers wanted to be treated fairly.

      • James 45.1.1

        Except the film was going to be shot in NZ and the dispute happenned, and now it looks like it might not. So…

        What does logic dictate on that…

        • Colonial Viper

          What does logic dictate on the idea that a few $100K worth of minimum workers terms and conditions scuttled a $500M movie project.

          Not likely eh?

          How about this: what does logic dictate on the idea that this blow up is a corporate pressure tactic designed to extract another $20-30M from the NZ taxpayer?

          Worth thinking about.

  45. Gosman 46

    Why did Helen Kelly cancel the meeting last night?

    What was she afraid of?

    • George 46.1

      She spoke to the protest.

      • Gosman 46.1.1

        She cancelled the meeting that she organised because she felt it was too ‘dangerous’ with the ‘lynch mob’ that Richard Taylor organised.

        This is hillarious. Richard Taylor and the word dangerous together is not something I expect to see unless you count being bored to death by his monotone is a likelyhood.

        The Unions just don’t like protests that they can’t control.

        • George

          What part of “she spoke to the protest” don’t you understand you retard?

          • Gosman

            What part of ‘Why did she cancel the meeting she organised on the 20th of October?’ don’t you understand moron?

  46. George 47

    I reckon the union couldn’t have done things differently. It looks like they thought they had a deal, they had a joint statement with the producers and then Jackson double-crossed them and drove a a PR campaign over them.

    They could have been better prepared I suppose but it’s natural to accept that a negotiated joint statement will be upheld in good faith. What kind of a business environment is it when you can’t even trust a company to stand by a negotiated press release?

    • Colonial Viper 47.1

      Looks like the bosses are determined to return to the distrustful days of the 1960’s and 1970’s union movements. Its almost as if ‘good faith bargaining’ is a concept which has somehow disappeared into oblivion.

    • Crashcart 47.2

      They could have negotiated terms with the right people (SPADA) 2 years ago when a $500,000,000 production wasn’t on the line.That might have been better don’t you think?

  47. grumpy 48

    What sort of people belong to Actor’s Equity anyway. It seems that most of them spend less time in employment than they do on the dole.

    And to think that they have cost hundred’s of real worker’s their jobs.

  48. KJT 49

    You have to question why Warner and the Government have made this public instead of just negotiating.

    • grumpy 49.1

      What’s it got to do with the govt? The Union installed a boycott without negotiating, where was your question then?

      The Government is just trying to save worker’s jobs.

      • Colonial Viper 49.1.1

        The Government is just trying to save worker’s jobs.

        Very very clear that this is not the case.

        Unless you count trying to grind workers rights into the ground as ‘saving’ them.

        • grumpy

          Just watched the TV3 coverage of the demo. Looked like 1500 ex labour voters to me. If Key keeps them in a job, count their families and freinds as well.

  49. The Voice of Reason 50

    Intersting summary from Tinseltown:


    ps: 279 comments. A new PB for IB?

    • Crashcart 50.1

      Well I see a lot of quoting Kelly and well that’s about it. They take one quote from Wingnut and completely ignore their derision of Kelly and the base statement from Jackson and use that for an article. To be honest its sounds exactly like CV. No basis in reality.

      If this is the best backup for the initial post you can find then you are stretching.

  50. Carol 51

    Trevor Mallard has posted a comment on the issue. Among other points he’s made, he agrees with Gordon Campbell:


    Gordon Campbell has almost certainly got it right. Either the Hobbit is gone or it is in the bag. If it was neither the government would be sweetening the deal to keep it here because of its importance to the economy.

    • grumpy 51.1

      Mallard agrees with Gordon Campbell – amazing!

      Do we take this as the official Labour Party line? Personally, I would rather wait to see what Goff has to say. It would also be interesting to hear from Helen Clark on the demise of her beloved movie industry that she wanted to be such an integral part of.

      • Colonial Viper 51.1.1

        The industry is strong mate, even the loss of The Hobbit is not going to cause it to go away.

        • The Baron

          Are you a member of that industry, CV?

          If not, then what the hell would you know about its health? Seemed to me that there was 1,500 actual members of that industry pretty damn worried yesterday. You calling those workers liars?

          And what sort of lefty sides with an 80 member union over 1,500 real workers anyway?

  51. Draco T Bastard 52

    I’m not going to read 300 comments sio I’ll just say this.

    If we want a film industry in NZ making NZ films then it’d be better if we just financed them ourselves. Government funding is fine. We don’t need the major foreign labels coming in and screwing down our people for their profits.

    • The Baron 52.1

      Then you are a fool Draco.
      – Do you genuinely believe that the NZ Govt can compete in the major motion picture business versus Warner Brothers, Universal and Paramount?
      – How will our Govt distribute these films versus these global, integrated supply chains?
      – Where will the money come from? Oh here we go again – just print it, right?

      As for this screwing people down:
      – At the start of this process, the Union representatives were very clear this wasn’t about money – see Ward-Leeland on Campbell live. As for what it was about, I still don’t know.
      – And anyway, $5,000 a week is being screwed down?
      – Heaven knows what these terms and conditions are – and why the Union didn’t negotiate them two years ago when the Producers group approached them.

      Instead, we are facing the distinct prospect of NO MONEY AND NO JOBS FOR ANYONE.

      And the people that F*CKED THAT UP are your stupid f*cking 80-member, unregistered, uncontactable, IDIOT unions.

      • Colonial Viper 52.1.1

        Sorry are you still trying to pin the decision to move a $500M project away based on a few hundred thousand dollars worth of workers’ **minimum** terms and conditions?

        I suggest you stop backing big business owners and start backing your fellow NZ workers.

        And if you want to play the blame game, at least blame the right crew: Jackson and Warner trying to get tens of millions of dollars more worth of tax concessions from the Govt.

      • The Voice of Reason 52.1.2

        Yeah right. An 80 member union stopped Warner Bros in their tracks. Wipe your lips and calm down, Baron. Does it really make sense that a group of people with such little power could really derail this project? Really? Or is the reason more likely to be that Jackson has lost control of the project due to his own inability to get it off the ground? Remember, this project has already been through one director and countless attempts at getting approval over the last 3 years.

        • comedy

          Hmmmmm but I thought that Paul Henry was done over because of people power ?

          But in this case people power is having no effect and it’s all the gummints evil plan, I have a felling that if the gummint was really that Machiavellian they’d ride the public sentiment and let the hobbit get sent overseas and then use the public backlash to gut the union movement in NZ….. oh noes I have spilled the beans.

      • Draco T Bastard 52.1.3

        o you genuinely believe that the NZ Govt can compete in the major motion picture business versus Warner Brothers, Universal and Paramount?

        No, I believe our actors, screenwriters, directors, special effects and the support people can.

        How will our Govt distribute these films versus these global, integrated supply chains?

        Digitally? The old methods are dying so there’s no point in clinging to them.

        Where will the money come from? Oh here we go again – just print it, right?

        Yes and then it’s removed from the economy with the returns from sales as happens now through the private banking system.

      • Jagilby 52.1.4

        You seriously don’t know when to call it quits when you’ve been beat.

        You were pwned Draco and shown up by The Baron for the economic numpty you are.

        pwned I says!

        [lprent: and I say that you have a two day ban. This area is an agree to disagree forum. Claiming victory, owned or pwned is an invitation to start a flamewar. I don’t like it because it increases my workload. ]

  52. RRM 53

    You have the opportunity to do a job for $5,000 per week.

    You turn it down because you want $8,000 per week.

    The customer goes next door and gets the same service for $5,000 per week from someone else.

    An evil plot by capitalist bastards striving to keep you down?

    Or were you really just a bit silly to turn down a job that pays a hell of a lot better than most…?

  53. randal 54

    there’s no business like showbusiness.

  54. ak 55

    Jeepers. 300 comments.

    Mmmmm……must be a script in this, let’s see….plucky band of charismatic artisan-types seek crumbs from greedy colonialists grown fat on their labour…… which promptly threatens total famine and portly puppet-baron calls for heads from his lear jet……scribes and scabrisies whip peasants into frenzy….clown masquerading as high priest proffers more peasants’ taxes to appease his masters….. to be continued….

  55. randal 56

    send the script to my agent.
    Ill look at it and get my people to call your people.

  56. Irascible 57

    The Hobbit has gone overseas because the money men, the friends of Key and his ilk, have decided that they can get cheaper money, higher tax breaks and highly subsidised locations elsewhere. They aren’t, like Key, concerned with the rights of workers . He & they couldn’t give a stuff about those. The speculators are going whee they can load the house in their favour.
    Key and his grandstanding PR machine know that and should butt out of the issue or simply announce that there is nothing he can do in NZ but accept the inevitable the money has moved to where the speculators sense greater profit.

    • big bruv 57.1

      You just keep telling yourself that Irascible…..

      Don’t listen to the facts at all, don’t bother yourself with the truth and the awful reality that the unions have cost thousands of Kiwis the chance to work.

      And, most of all don’t blame Helen Kelly, after all, she has not lost her job, she is still getting paid and she is not inconvenienced at all.

    • Gosman 57.2

      Yeah Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh are obviously lying toe rags for stating this has nothing to do with tax breaks. Gosh they are evil.

      No Left leaning party would be willing to give support to them luckily eh?

      • George 57.2.1

        They’re liars for claiming the union was to blame when the boycott was already off.

        • Colonial Viper

          Jackson, Boyens, Walsh: their stocks have respectively dropped over their poor conduct and poor leadership in this matter. Each stands to gain hugely from this project yet they back the foreign corporates ahead of fellow NZ’ers seeking basic minimum terms and conditions.

        • big bruv


          Pop over to public address, that bastion of right wing politics has hit the nail on the head.

          Russ lays the blame squarely at the feet of Kelly and the CTU.

          It seems she has told some horrendous lies.

          • Colonial Viper

            It seems thats what you’ve done big bruv, fighting for the side of the corporates. Shame on you for backing foreign executives ahead of your fellow NZ workers.

            • big bruv


              Please do not put words in my mouth, I could not care less about the corporates.

              Unlike Kelly and the unions I care about the people who are going to miss out on work.

              Shame on you for supporting an organisation who are putting their own political gain ahead of the welfare of their members.

            • TightyRighty

              shame on you for being so short-sighted with your belief that removing a $500m + boost to our economy won’t help your fellow workers. you are so simple it defies belief.

            • The Baron

              Shame on you for backing an 80 member, unregistered union over 1,500 real workers.

          • mickysavage

            Russ lays the blame squarely at the feet of Kelly and the CTU.

            Um no he does not.

            He actually blames Actors Equity. He also presumes that there was a legal impediment to a collective contract whereas the legal advice that Actors Equity received was that there was no legal impediment. This point is at the core of his post.

            It seems she has told some horrendous lies.

            Nice allegation, shame there is no foundation for it.

            The only lie that RWNJs claim she has said is that the ban on the movie has already been lifted. She is correct in this regard. Even Wingnut studios agree with this.

            PS BB. Have you paid your bet yet?

            • comedy


              “I have always thought of Chris Carter as an effective hardworking MP and a good Minister”

              Interesting because I have always thought that you are a fucking idiot.

              • Lame Comedy. I outed myself. No need for the personal abuse.

                Now about the claim that Helen Kelly has lied when it is clear she has been telling the truth?

                • comedy

                  I thought you only outed yourself as Greg Pressland are you now officially outing yourself as a fucking idiot ?

                  Re Helen Kelly – clearly she has fucked this up hopelessly, backing a transtasman union with a few dozen members vs the huge number of techies, actors, caterers etc etc who all want the movie to go ahead and get a share of the 500 million…….. insanity really.

  57. Edosan 58

    It seems to me that the issue of tax incentives could have been one that has been a stumbling block for WB for some time (and added to the troubles The Hobbit has been having for months). The situation as it stands offers an out for the Govt as it is now able to position the granting of greater tax incentives as Key ‘saving’ the production from the Unions who have shattered the ‘confidence’ of WB (certainly better than the story just being “Key grants massive tax break to WB”)
    WB and Jackson may have created this situation for the Government, and it is the best explanation for WB holding off the press release about ending the boycott, and then not telling the techies who protested and have prolonged the ‘crisis’.
    The logic of the whole show now is to paint AE as the bad guy, therefore the Union’s actions, while understandable, have unwittingly put them in quite a horrible situation.
    To be fair, if it works and a greater tax break is granted, the film goes ahead, and the Unions manage to come to an agreement which sets a new industry standard on pay, conditions and overtime etc, then it’s not an entirely bad thing, just an incredibly underhanded and nasty way of going about it, from the Govt and WB.
    I certainly don’t believe the talk of WB sizing up other countries for a while now, as they have already rebuilt Hobbiton in Matamata and invested a lot in casting.

  58. Blue 59

    I’d like to hear from Warner Brothers Studios themselves. There’s been not a word from them, only press releases from Peter Jackson putting words in their mouths.

    There will be no clarity on what is driving this overblown mess until they front up and speak for themselves.

  59. Kyle 60

    Who is this Gosman troll and where did he come from?

    • lprent 60.1

      He does tend to act like a troll sometimes when he gets wound up, but not that often. Usually he is more of a sniper offering little of substance or ideas, but some pretty robust criticism.

      You can find him writing posts at No Minister (in Right blogs on the blogroll)

    • Gosman 60.2

      Paranoia creeping in I suspect

    • Murray 60.3

      Hes certainly got a better grasp of the situation then you lot have

  60. Carol 61

    Sorry. Double post.

  61. Carol 62

    Hmmm… interesting move by Key & English (as just reported on Nat Rad news). They are now saying that Warners are angling to get more financing from the NZ Govt & that’s why they think the Warner’s rep is coming to NZ this week. This even though the Jackson team claimed the Warner’s person was coming to arrange the filiming elsewhere.

    • The Voice of Reason 62.1

      Oh bugger! English reckons Warners are going to put the squeeze on for more taxpayer charity. That clanking sound you hear is Murray, Big bludge and the other RWNJ’s putting their brains in reverse.

      • Colonial Viper 62.1.1

        I thought their brains were already in reverse? Surely thats the only explanation for what we’ve seen so far.

    • Carol 62.2

      Oh. No. The government’s position changes by the hour. The English and Key comments were reported on the Nat Rad 4pm news. On the Nat Rad 5pm news, Brownlee is saying the government is NOT putting any more money on the table, and that the issue is about industrial relations. Do they talk to each other? Do they agree?

      And some people are asking why a Warner’s person would come down here just to say they aren’t going to film here. Surely s/he is coming to negotiate?

      • Colonial Viper 62.2.1

        Somebody let the cat out of the bag and now Brownlee is trying to stuff it back in.

        Confusion with the messages being given to media.

        They hadn’t agreed on the spin they would take before they started talking to journalists so this has resulted.

        Bottom line: this is about millions of dollars of taxes, the union is being scapegoated.

        • Carol

          It was really Blinglish that went off message and mentioned possible talks with Warners about money. What a surprise?

  62. TightyRighty 64

    I see the Actors equity union have cancelled a meeting in auckland, like they cancelled their meeting in wellington last night, because they are scared of the workers. Where is the solidarity, where is the belief. These idiots, who have potentially cost this nation so much with their protest, can’t handle a protest in response. Why is it that the unions hate their own medicine being dished back to them. Imagine if the government scrapped a meeting about work place laws because they feared the CTU picketing it? the CTU would be crowing victory. But now the real workers, unionised or not, are standing together in solidarity, actors equity, and by extension helen kelly and the CTU for their endorsements are hiding in fear. pathetic and cowardly actions, like a bully being subject to their own medicine.

    • Jagilby 64.1

      Hear hear.

      God that’s good. Says everything I wanted to say.

    • Colonial Viper 64.2

      The Right have done a good job of sowing discord amongst the workers, but its now clear this is about tens of millions of dollars worth of tax rebates, not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of minimum terms and conditions for workers.

      • TightyRighty 64.2.1

        see below numpty.

        I think you’ll find as well that the discord amongst workers was sowed by the selfish gits at AE, ruining it for everybody else, not the right. Great to see the CTU and AE sowing the seeds of their own demise with their selfish posturing.

  63. KJT 65

    The truth is starting to come out right this moment. Warners are going for a bigger subsidy. All the rest of the publicity is NACT and co putting the boot into “Big bad unions”. Expect to see a lot more jack-ups like this as the election nears.

    Just hope union bosses are more circumspect about giving ammunition in future.

    • TightyRighty 65.1

      warners is going for a bigger subsidy because now they can. they know NZ, which was once a shoe-in, is now desperate thanks to the selfish short sighted Australian puppets of AE, so they are driving a hard bargain. It’s not “the truth coming out”, it’s good business practise. I know the thought of business practise eludes most commentators on the left, but it’s why some people are successful and why those who don’t have it, moan about others success.

      on a side note, is robyn malcolm becoming the next keith locke? whatever she says, i do the opposite too.

      • KJT 65.1.1


        • TightyRighty

          oh my, I have been found out. my argument has been found lacking by a lengthy and considered response of such gravitas, you would think nelson mandela himself had composed it especially for your use.

          • KJT

            Giving your exaggerated ideological union bashing more response than it is worth. The whole thing is a beat up.

            • TightyRighty

              when a union runs away from the workers, you know they have lost the argument.

      • Colonial Viper 65.1.2

        It took a few hours for this particular version of spin to come out.

        However, Warners and Jackson have been after a bigger subsidy from the start, which is why they started this anti-worker ploy: or soon figured out they could use it in this way.

        Perhaps the CTU was caught out by this lack of good faith.

        Tighty, everyone already knows that this is a class war. The wealthy top few % against everyone else. Stop making excuses for the drive towards corporate greed and towards wealth inequality. Its unsustainable foolishness.

        • TightyRighty

          I love it. “everyone knows this a class war”. truth by consensus, the old AGW argument. you think it is because of class war, some share your opinion. Most however do not, as you can see by the general feeling of outrage across the country at the actions of the CTU and AE. don’t bring everyone into your jealous and bitter stupidity.

          • Colonial Viper

            Be afraid mate, there’s more of us than there are of the top 5%. Roughly 20x more in fact.

            • TightyRighty

              that makes 105% of the population. your stupidity is hurting my eyes.

              • The Voice of Reason

                No, its still roughly 20 times more. ‘Roughly’ indicates that it is not an exact equation. The hurting, and the stupidity, lies behind your eyes and between your ears.

                • TightyRighty

                  got your nano laser out to split the hairs VoR? if it was roughly, it would 19x. it’s a big difference. National standards for all i say

  64. Daveosaurus 66

    Basically: spoilt rich brat gets everything he wants, throws toys out of cot anyway. How usual.

    captcha: oldest. Yes, this is one of the oldest stories around…

  65. Joe Bloggs 67

    Basically spoilt self-obsessed foreign union wants to bolster its numbers, cocks up take over of AE, cocks up efforts to boycott The Hobbit, blames the capitalists. How ordinary.

    As for liar Kelly, call for global boycott says:
    Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical film The Hobbit until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for production in New Zealand providing for satisfactory terms and conditions for all performers employed on the productions

    Lying CTU says:
    The union has always been prepared to agree those conditions as an industry standard rather than a collective agreement.

    captcha: satisfied – no I am bloody not! Fuck the CTU and the MEAA and all the underhanded sneaky conniving chicanery they stand for. Servants of the workers? fuck off!

    • TightyRighty 67.1

      should be Helen Keller. Deaf and Blind to the suffering she is causing.

      • freedom 67.1.1

        TR, unless i am missing something about the long and distinguished career of a woman who fought tirelessly for the rights of the Deaf and Blind community, you have just made an incredibly ignorant comment

        • TightyRighty

          comparing Helen Keller, who overcame her personal difficulties to go on to a distinguished career to Helen Kelly, who has now cut her own, and thousands of others, careers short, is wrong and ignorant. sorry freedom. I know how the left hates name puns.

    • Colonial Viper 67.2

      Always knew it was Warner and Jackson looking for more off the tax payers’ teat. You right wingers love the welfare system. I mean, the corporate welfare system.

      This ruckus always had to be over more than a few hundred thousand dollars worth of workers’ minimum terms and conditions. And of course it is: its about tens of millions of extra tax payer dollars that Warner and Jackson want their hands on.

      Follow the money, the answers always lie at the end of the trail.

      • Carol 67.2.1

        Oh. Now Sir Peter and John Key are going full out blaming the union. Key is getting on his white horse and saying he’s gonna save the film for NZ. So clearly, they are not saying the filming is going elsewhere. And talking money/conditions with Warners is seen by them as being possible to keep the film. What a load of cobblers. Thanks for throwing our actors under the bus. Key shouldn’t be taking sides. Team Jackson doesn’t impress me with their tactics.

        They are blaming the “unstable” situation here. Right. So democratic action and debate is not allowed if it upsets the transnational corporate masters. They want to present Kiwis as docile serfs so that future big productions will come here.

      • Joe Bloggs 67.2.2

        yeah you just keep on saying that shit, snakey – but not a shred of evidence…

  66. Gosman 68

    So good to see Helen Kelly get some of her own medicine at yesterday’s protest on TV3 news tonight. Someone calling her out for speaking BS. She looked rather shocked at not being regarded as the workers hero.


    • Colonial Viper 68.1

      The Right have done a good job of setting workers against each other. The unions will manage their comms policy better next time, and not assume good faith bargaining with Peter Jackson and associates in future.

  67. Gosman 69

    Talk of a splinter Union being formed now.

    Another meeting called off because apparently Unions don’t like dealing with upset workers.

    Helen Kelly has written her career obituary I think.

    • Colonial Viper 69.1

      Ah Gosman, spare us your lack of insight.

      The unions are a distraction, Jackson and Warner want the welfare teat, thats the crux.

    • The Voice of Reason 69.2

      Ha! You know fuck all about unions, eh, Gossie. Helen Kelly’s position has strengthened as a result of her work in this dispute. Unionists tend to like people who can look bullies in the eye and stare them down. Remember, she came in when this was already an issue, made public by Jackson, and she has negotiated a deal with the producers that will lead to improved conditions for workers in the industry. She had the guts to talk to the mob last night, why hasn’t Sauron got the guts to talk to the actors? Is Robyn Malcolm too scary for Lord Peter?

      • Murray 69.2.1

        “She had the guts to talk to the mob last night”
        Weren’t the mob just workers worried about jobs?
        Helen Kelly is completely discredited,
        As Peter Jackson said she needs to just go home

  68. Vicky32 70

    Now I am hearing TV3 News’ take on it…. everything from Smile and Wave being very predictable, to a whiny sounding woman (a casting agent, I heard) asking plainitively what the unions meant by ‘condutions’ – “luquid soap and 3 ply toilet paper rather than 2 ply?” She’s either an idiot, or a sheep in Jackson’s flock!
    Oh suprise me one day, 3 News, and don’t be fascistic!

    • Carol 70.1

      TV3 actually reported the day of action yesterday more favourably than TV One news. TV One was totally dismissive – seemd just like a NACT PR arm.

      • Vicky32 70.1.1

        Yes, that was quite a surprise! Well, they’ve made up for it tonight it makes me want to cry… 🙁

  69. comedy 71

    400th comment keeching !!!

    Where’s my prize ?

  70. salsy 72

    With all the information you already know Bill, Im amazed that you are still spouting on the side of MEAA. If you are even slightly pro the labour movement in NZ, you would dismiss this shonky debarcle for the grab for power its is, protect the NZ film industry and the serious Labour union movement currently vulnerable to negative pubic opinion. I hardly think the left movement needs Michael Lhaws figure like yourself, breeding ignorance and hatred despite the myriad of facts and information at hand

    • IrishBill 72.1

      It’s precisely because I know the details I’m on the side of the union. Personally I can see the risk this dispute carries for the reputation of the union movement but the union is in the right here and standing back and letting people get screwed because stepping in might cause some bad PR is fundamentally contrary to the values of unionism. When your mates are getting screwed you stand by them. But I wouldn’t expect you to understand that because I doubt you have any mates.

      • clandestino 72.1.1

        Ad hominem crap like that ain’t gonna win you the debate mate. I think what either Phillipa Boyens or Fran Walsh said is you true: You guys place more value on being right, than on the jobs of your fellow New Zealanders.

        It’s ridiculous, there are REAL issues for unions out there. A higher minimum wage for one.
        But trying to get involved in something they were seriously unqualified to get involved in:


        is just stupid. These actors had contracts for profit sharing, make really good money when there are films to make. It defies logic.

        • IrishBill

          I don’t buy that “special” industry spiel for a minute. Business is business and industrial relations are industrial relations.

          • clandestino

            But what happens when industrial relations mean business pulls out and thousands of jobs lost and a gutted industry?? Surely people realise the NZ film industry is highly dependent on foreign capital and that capital can take flight faster than a Lear Jet. I commiserate with those playing the unionist line with a straight bat (as Helen Kelly does in the video above), but sometimes you’ve gotta be pragmatic and pick your battles.
            It’s just not the right industry. Read it all over the net, in polls etc. People will start fighting against their interests now as usual because hardliners have enabled business in NZ to successfully demonise the whole union movement and one of it’s spokespeople. One giant almighty massive miskick own goal

            • IrishBill

              Just about all of New Zealand’s industries are reliant on foreign capital and just about every industrial stoush with overseas companies has involved the threat of capital flight. The bottom line in business is the bottom line and that’s going to be affected by tax breaks and the exchange rate to a whole order of magnitude more than it is going to be affected by a few terms and conditions for workers.

              This is the right industry. I’ve personally heard horror story after horror story from film industry workers. I’ll admit it’s not been the best campaign by the union but that doesn’t change the fact they are in the right.

              And to be fair to them, they had a deal struck last weekend which should have been the end of this. It’s the producers who are acting in bad faith and they are doing so because they have a separate agenda (most likely an agenda for bigger tax breaks). That’s disgraceful and it simply cannot be accepted in silence.

              • clandestino

                That is absolute garbage and I suspect you know it!

                Yes we are all dependent on foreign capital in one way or another. But the film industry is especially vulnerable for the reasons you’ve mentioned and because of the uncertainty over funding and relative over capacity all over the world.
                I would love to hear some of these horror stories mate, really would. I live down here in Wellington, have lived in the eastern suburbs most of my life (Miramar Heights actually), and have family working on the hobbit (until 2 weeks ago my cousin was making costumes). I have been to functions with family friends working in set construction over the years, been to the Lord of the Rings after parties (there were many, and lavish).

                Never ONCE have I heard anyone bemoan pay or conditions (aside from long hours, but this was accepted as coming with the territory for the rate they were getting). Granted, they weren’t actors, but honestly, when you are making x grand a day (and some of the extras got hundreds for standing around for 10 hours) then what grounds do you have for complaint?! As far as I can tell, these lead actors from the union haven’t been involved in the films down here and do not represent many of those who’ve worked on the Jackson films.

                The NATURE of the film businesses is it’s unfairness, there are limited opportunities, and they don’t come round very often. But watch the video above, at the end listen to the actor talking about how he wants his job to pay his mortgage. The mere fact you are willing to put this under threat to make some grand political gesture about worldwide solidarity and equal bloody pay with overpaid American actors…is absurd.

              • salsy

                This is the right industry. I’ve personally heard horror story after horror story from film industry workers.

                Is that really all you have to support this? You would happily stand by and watch the collapse of our film industry becasue you “heard” a few horror stories. And I know full well you are aware that the NZAE have no qualms with pay and conditions, infact they still arent able to articulate their demands, yet they are to be trusted and backed for all its worth – even at the cost of 1000’s of jobs.

                • Carol

                  I doubt that the NZ film industry is in danger of collapsing. To me there are indications that The Hobbitt will be filmed here after some negotiations over money between the NZ government & Warners. And if it isn’t filmed here, there’s still quite a bit of money and jobs to be had by NZ, because the pre- & post-production will be done here. A lot of scare-mongering going on by the media, Team Jackson, and behind them, pulling the strings, Warners.

                  • salsy

                    Sorry Carol, you dont understand. MEAA have chosen the Hobbit to be the vehicle to unionise the NZ film industry. Ths means Simon Whipp etc will have a stranglehold on every film that gets made here, wave bye bye to every low budget film and considering around 90% of our industry is independent, we are screwed. Oh and as for the big films, they dont want to come here either if we are unionised – we are already seeing the beginning of this here, oh and I just heard on nightline another 100 million $$ of planned films are now on hold following this

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The link you provided has little to do with unionisation being a factor and everything to do with falling global ad revenues.

                      And you are pushing typical misconceptions – union bosses follow the lead of their members or they do not stay in charge for long.

                      Further NZ workers determine their own future, not Australians. How weak do you think NZ workers are?

                    • Gosman

                      So why is the Aussie Union boss not coming out and stating he has nothing to do with this?

                    • Carol

                      Disney pulling Legend of the Seeker had nothing to do with unionisation. The article you linked said it had to do with a drop in advertising revenue for US films & TV worldwide. It doesn’t mention unionisation. Why should it? Most other countries US TV is made in, are unionised.

                      Gordon Campbell puts the Disney pull-out down to the lack of a sufficent financial input from the NZ government:


                      …because the Key government has allowed our global competitiveness to fall behind other countries, and we may be about to pay the price for that complacency…

                      And makes the link with the Disney pull-out here:


                      The MEA and unionisation has been the line that Team Jackson and the government are running. But behind that, it’s all about negotiations over money.

                      And in the first Campbell article I link to above, he says:

                      …, 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. The pre-production work is already under way at local work-shops in Miramar and similarly, the highly remunerative post-production work was always going to be done at Weta Digital.

            • Colonial Viper

              Lets remember that countries like Canda and Australia which keep coming up as places where The Hobbit could end up are highly unionised and film industry workers in those countries get minimum contractual terms and conditions.

              NZ’ers should not be treated any less as a labour force than workers in these countries. It is an issue of workplace fairness.

              But what happens when industrial relations mean business pulls out and thousands of jobs lost and a gutted industry??

              This is precisely the case for economic sovereignty: a country which owns its own assets, talent and means of production, so we do not have to rely on distant foreign paymasters to give every work project the greenlight – or not, as the case may be.

              • clandestino

                “NZ’ers should not be treated any less as a labour force than workers in these countries. It is an issue of workplace fairness.”

                If the UNION itself isn’t sure about what conditions it wants, why are you so sure their conditions now are so terrible? Because the mum on Outrageous Fortune said so?

                As for your isolationist mumbo jumbo; read up on Juche, sounds like your cup of tea….and look up some North Korean cartoons too (that insidiously global youtube has them).

                • Colonial Viper

                  yeah the union is sure, they’re just not telling YOU.

                  Big difference.

                  Because the mum on Outrageous Fortune said so?

                  That’s a character on a TV show. She doesn’t exist in real life.

                  Having trouble distinguishing reality?

  71. Chess Player 73

    I think Helen Clark summed it up best years ago, although the context was probably different…”Wreckers and Haters” wasn’t it?

  72. RedLogix 74

    The “loss of confidence” argument has to a transparent nonsense. Like all workplace deals (of whatever form), it would have dates on it. Once signed off both parties are bound by it and can proceed with certainty.

    • Nick C 74.1

      Redlogix there are two different films being made, unlikely to have the same contract for both films. So they will absolutely need confidence in the industry if they are going to make that investment.

      • IrishBill 74.1.1

        Funny thing is the deal was done. It’s the producers that have acted in bad faith which means it is the producers that have created the uncertainty.

        • Carol

          Yes, interesting that Robyn Malcom & Actors Equity (on Campbell Live tonight) claim they thought the dispite was resolved at the weekend and were surprised at the press release from Jackson blaming the unions. She also says she believes that tickets are being bought to fly some major international actors here for filming.

          So, I think the actors’ union is a minor player in some big power plays and financial negotiations going on behind the scenes. The media, Jackson, and Key/Brownlee are all stirring and beating it up.

          • clandestino

            Come off it, don’t jump on the political bashing bandwagon. Have you ever heard of ockham’s razor? The simplest explanation is the best, and when people start clutching at conspiracy theories you know the argument is lost. There are many thousands of unemployed people already in this country, why advocate making more to prove a political point?
            This is the definition of biting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.

            • Colonial Viper

              I agree. The simplest explanation is that Jackson and Warners is after tens of millions more Govt tax handouts.

              This bruhaha is not about a couple of hundred thousand lousy NZD for minimum workers terms and conditions. That would be stupid and not even worth Jackson’s (or Warner executives) time.

              • clandestino

                It’s not that though, I thought we were getting somewhere.
                The studio doesn’t want to commit half a billion if there is going to be industrial action and stopwork orders and wrangling over figurine royalties all along the way. That’s where the lost money is…the bloody lawyers and production delays. Every day is massive outlay right. My guess is they don’t give a crap what kind of coffee the actors want but, as said ad nauseum, they want certainty (what our reputation was built on). And yes that’s about price too, which is why tradies are movin to oz and fonterra is moving in China and TESOL teachers choose Korea over Khartoum. Profit and certainty.
                Heard Robyn and Helen had dinner at the Matterhorn last night. Didn’t exactly go cheap did they?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Its only matterhorn for gawds sakes. Though I guess they could’ve walked 2 mins to the BK.

                  Agree on minimum terms and conditions for the period of the project + an industry code of practice and leave it at that. No problems, right?

                  In terms of production delays etc. yes they are very expensive. But the union has been the absolute smallest component of delays on this project, a project which has been massively complicated and seen both people and funding coming and going on it.

                  The big boys are after $20-30M more in tax breaks from the Govt, that’s what this is all about.

                  • clandestino

                    Mate, you might be right Warner Bros will take advantage of the delay and threat of capital flight to get a further subsidy (tax break is effectively a subsidy). All I can say about that is we brought it on ourselves in my estimation.

                    Now, I work in a unnamed bureaucracy down here in Welly, and whenever someone mentions waffly crap like ‘terms and conditions’ and ‘code of practice’ I roll my eyes, coz I have to deal with shit like that all day. Be specific! If you want more pay…say so! If you want days in lieu for working overtime, out with it! If you want a guarantee of employment, sign a bloody contract! If you want Ethiopian plateau over Vietnamese highland, then make it your effing self!

                    It just seems like the union went into this playing prisoners dilemma and came out zero sum down through their own foolish naivete. They had good terms and wanted more, coz the actors over in the states or oz or the UK told them “you deserve more!” With the consequence being we’d lose the work and they’d get it…simples. (hows about that for a conspiracy)

                    • Colonial Viper

                      It does appear that the small Equity union has been played like a very small violin on a big stage. Nevertheless, no pain no gain.

                      I hope they gain significant membership from this incident as individual actors realise how weak they are individually and how badly they are treated relative to Brits, Australians and Canadians doing exactly the same work.

  73. TightyRighty 75

    Just IM’d with a mate on this. He’s an insider, ten years of movie history and industry wasted if this movie leaves he says.

    • The Voice of Reason 75.1

      Well, we’d better hope John Key gives the yanks lots more of our money then, eh?

      • comedy 75.1.1

        On that point – does anyone actually know how the government subsidies work in relation to these films ?

        Is it tax brakes or direct govt subsidies ?

      • TightyRighty 75.1.2

        better spent on a tax break to gain investment than out of work actors, technicians and support crew that you seem to be so intent spending taxpayers money on in dole payments.

        • Armchair Critic

          Do the teachers Peter Jackson and co really want us to borrow more than [$256m a week] and place a noose around the neck of young New Zealanders?”
          John Key
          Yes John, I think they do.

      • jacinda 75.1.3

        They are spending $500 million here and creating thousands upon thousands of jobs for 3 years.

        How the hell did you come to thinking that that money doesn’t stay in NZ?

  74. ianmac 76

    My view after watching and reading is that factions are fighting from different positions and confuse the right/wrong accordingly.
    The Actors wants are unclear, but they seem to think that the Producers aren’t listening.
    The Producers and Directors just want to make a couple of films but believe that the plot is being hijacked.
    The Government wants the filming to go ahead but want to use the situation to clobber Unions. (Listen to Brownlie.)
    The CTU want to help one part of the industry (actors) but this pits them against other unions (technicians).
    Warners want to make money from a good film but believe that the workforce is unstable.
    Jackson is certain that Warners are not after a bigger concession and says that the actors for the first time get a cut from the finished film – that was offered by Warners long before the hoo ha started.
    Blogs are taking up for/against, right/wrong with great intensity but mostly about just a corner of the issue.

    Its a pity that the issues were not clear-cut. It would be much easier to take sides. In my opinion the situation is so full of information and so much misinformation, that no one can be sure except for one thing.
    The two Hobbit films would be great for New Zealand and the continuance of the industry. The loss of the Hobbits will demolish the future of the industry. Hobbits at any cost. The debate is bullshit.

    • clandestino 76.1

      Couldn’t have summed it up better. There is confusion in the ranks and the the CTU looks like a headless chicken.
      I just hope they aren’t thinking they’ll agree to go on with it now only to bring it up midway through shooting…that would truly ruin us down here in Welly for ever.

    • prism 76.2

      ianmac. Nicely described. Seems on the button to me.

      Antispam – leader (As in take me to your leader?)

    • salsy 76.3

      Totally Brilliant! lol

  75. lprent 77

    Holy crap. This post hit the multi comment limit of 75 top level comments and there is no multiple page in the theme. I guess I’d better turn that off.

  76. millsy 78

    Quite frankly this issue had gotten way far out of hand. And I think that both sides need to wear some of the blame.

    The issue of wages and conditions in the film industry are legitamite, and arent going away anytime soon. I dont know about anyone else, but I really am uneasy at the fact that the set designers for the film versions of Tolkiens works are being paid less than minimum wage. I really dont see why PJ doesnt just pull his goddamn finger out and pay his workers a decent wage with decent conditions, rather than force them to work as independent contractors with little security, and crap wages, and no cover if they get hurt, surely he can afford it. Hell, WB are putting almost a billion dollars into this film. Without his cast and crew, he is nothing. He might was well break out his Super-8 and grab a few toys from his daughter’s room and do it all himself.

    Quite frankly if The Hobbit does go offshore it will be as a huge bomb at the box office. If anyone thinks that Europe is going to match the lush backdrops offered up in the original trilogy then they are seriously deluded, The Hobbit will bomb at the box office. All because Peter Jackson didnt want to negotiate with a union.

    As an aside here, comedy, joe bloggs, tighty righty et al all just want to push down wages and conditions and bring back SLAVERY – oh and ban unions

    • V 78.1

      You should probably get out a little more, NZ does not have a monopoly on scenery!

      • millsy 78.1.1

        Decent scenery, I mean. Thats why the original trilogy worked so well.

        I mean, can you imagine Fangorn Forest in Ireland or Slovakia – its all mainly pine over there. You could drive your car thorough it.

        • Colonial Viper

          Jackson will be pissed off if he has to go to the UK or whatever because the end result will look quite different to the LOTR.

          No doubt he was seeking to have a completely seemless look between the movies’ scenary.

          But remember, this is all about extracting extra tens of millions from the tax payer in rebates to Jackson and Warner. It is not about a few hundred thousand dollars worth of minimum terms and conditions to ordinary NZ workers.

          • jacinda

            You are completely wrong. Its because Warner Bros confidence in having a stable shoot has been completely shattered.

            It is NOTHING to do with them wanting more rebates on top of what they already have. You are making up FUD if you continue to claim that. Watch tonights Close Up, where PJ actually confirms it.

    • Colonial Viper 78.2

      NZ workers shouldn’t expect to get what foreign workers can get in terms of minimum terms and conditions even though they do exactly the same work.

      NZ workers should buckle instead of rally together when a corporate entity has the gall to put political pressure on a whole country with threats of economic sanctions.

      NZ workers should get the blame when what Jackson and Warner really want are tens of millions of dollars more of tax payer handouts.

    • salsy 78.3

      I really am uneasy at the fact that the set designers for the film versions of Tolkiens works are being paid less than minimum wage

      Can you provide a link please?

  77. Nick K 79

    Oh, I just have to contribute comment # 449.

    But I have nothing to add.

  78. RascallyRabbit 80

    I believe all this palaver is quite reminiscent of a classic Simpsons episode:

    The Simpsons Radioactive Man

    Considering they are now at almost 470 episodes there is always one that neatly sums up contemporary life in 22 minutes!

    Rooney: Well, I hope you’re all satisfied. You bankrupted a bunch of naive movie folks — folks from a Hollywood where values are…different. They weren’t thinking about the money. They just wanted to tell a story, a story about a radioactive man, and you slick small-towners took ’em for all they were worth.[everyone looks dejected and mournful]
    Otto: [sniffles] Do we give them some of their money back?
    Quimby: [weeps] No.[A helicopter swings by overhead]
    Pilot: Hurry, Mr. Rooney! We’ve got a disenchanted little girl in a Jell-O Pudding commercial!
    Rooney: I could play that…[grabs the rope ladder]

  79. weizguy 81

    Firstly, are we incapable of discussing this issue without sloganeering and stereotyping? This is not a left/right battle – anyone who thinks it is needs to grow up.

    I think unions are a great concept. The union movement has done so much across the world to improve conditions, and to provide workers with an ability to have a say in their pay and conditions. However, they aren’t always right.

    Regardless of whether in this case the union’s requests/demands were legitimate and appropriate (and I don’t know enough to make a determination) the way that they have approached it has been (at best) strategically naive.

    As I looked at facebook this morning, I saw, as I suspected, friends marching to keep their jobs. These aren’t political people, they’re people who have worked hard to get into the film industry in New Zealand as editors and artists. They’re potentially seeing the thing they’ve always wanted to do leave NZ. It just makes me sad. Seeing Peter Jackson in the interview on Close Up made me sad.

    I hope we can keep the Hobbit in NZ. I hope that the actions of what appears to be an Australian union doesn’t result in more support for the Tories and another election loss for Labour. Sadly, at the moment, it doesn’t look good.

    I had a lot of respect for Helen Kelly. At the moment, she’s not doing much to sustain that respect.

    • clandestino 81.1

      Well said. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and also hope your prediction doesn’t come to pass. Workers voting against their macroeconomic interest again coz their own side stuffed up in an ideological brainfart (as bomber likes to put it).

    • Carol 81.2

      Yes, I think many workers in NZ need the union support right now. Kelly is doing a good job uner intense pressure. She’s getting hammered by the anti-union media and government, and by Jackson’s team, who are smearing her. That doesn’t reflect wll on them, because it shows they support wealth and power over the diverse struggling workers who Kelly is representing..

      • Gosman 81.2.1


        Oh you are funny Carol.

        If you want to believe that picture of reality go ahead.

      • weizguy 81.2.2

        From what I can see Carol, Helen Kelly’s not supporting my friends who may lose their jobs over this. If her help results in their unemployment, I’m picking they’d rather she didn’t “help”.

        Oh, and on a completely political note. It pisses me off that the actions of this union might create another situation where John Key rides in on his white horse and saves the Hobbit. Plus, I really hate having to agree with Gerry Brownlee.

  80. Carol 82

    Actually, I think that Key and Brownlee are more to blame for the situation becoming so fractious, than Kelly or AE. Gordon Campbell says that the NACT government has been negligent in not keeping the movie industry as internationally competitive as it used to be – ie not enough incentives. And Trevor Mallard tends to agree with Campbell, while saying (on Red Alert) that when he (Mallard) had the same portfolio as Brownlee, Mallard used to talk to Warners fairly regularly. Sounded like it was necessary to keep a grip on things. It also sounds like Brownlee hasn’t been doing that – what a surprise?!

    So Kelly has stepped in to help with a difficult situation. And, as far as she was concerned, they were dealing in good faith with Warners, and had callled off the union boycott, the dispute was over. It looks like Kelly and AE, being pretty small players in the scheme of things, have been played by the more powerful entities who have been attempting to leverage more money.

    I’m pretty sure Key/Brownlee will provide the necessary sweetner, the movie will be filmed here, Key will milk the situation to his advantage (and take none of the blame they deserve), and the AE role will slip into the background. Though, in the long term, we may see that the actors union may have acquired a bit more savvy and clout in the process.

    • Colonial Viper 82.1

      The CTU will have gained a lot of experience and contacts in the entertainment industry over this. AE will have learnt some tough lessons, too. Jackson’s reputation is in the dirt now, internationally. His PR guys have done a great job with the public, but the SAG and others definitely know his colours now.

      Labour needs to provide political advice to the unions as well. They need to co-ordinate much better. A couple of months out from an election year, we cannot be giving NAT gift horses.

      The film stuff brings high tech high value industry to NZ. Exactly what we want. But at the same time we can see that different parts of the industry have different levels of advancement in terms of workers rights. I am sure that the top animators at WETA get paid handsomely. But when it comes to the basic conditions that a labourer on set has – no industry standards exist and possibly not even employment protection. That level of inequality is not good enough, New Zealand.

      And, we see that the corporate Right still have the best PR and spin team in the business by far.

      • weizguy 82.1.1

        “Jackson’s reputation is in the dirt now, internationally.”

        Do we live on the same planet? I tend to be generally in agreement with what I’ve seen you write on the Standard, but I cannot begin to fathom how you figure that this reflects badly on PJ. Even if he is in the wrong (and I don’t think he is), I don’t think NZ will end up blaming him for this, and I don’t think the rest of the world will care about anything but seeing the Hobbit.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yes the same planet. And its a small one eh?

          Fair comment re: the NZ public who no doubt continue to consider him an icon beyond reproach, but I was actually referring to his reputation with the SAG and actors internationally. They are far more familiar with the bully tactics the big studios use on labour, and will recognise the pattern which has played out between a small actors union, an inept Government and powerful commercial interests.

          What I will say about PJ is that he had the power and the influence to keep this issue low key and well managed. Instead he and his inner circle can be faulted for listening to professional PR handlers – likely US supplied – keen to escalate the issue against workers at every turn with fear of god filled press releases and media interviews.

          • weizguy

            What I disagree with is the vitriol that I’ve seen here. From what I perspective (and I base this on a long-time interest in his work, significant time working on the LOTR films as an extra, and a number of friendships with people who know him well and work with him) he just wants to make films. I’m quite convinced by his interview on Close Up. He looks genuinely upset and confused by the whole situation, and I have to sympathise with him. I don’t think he’s the bad guy in this.

            What’s more, I’d hate to see the progressive movement destroy itself because of something like this. Why do we have to be so positional and aggressive?

            • Maynard J

              Because a $500 million film can’t bear to use contracts giving New Zealanders terms similar to those other actors get.

              I suppose the easy option would be to be passive and submissive, and take what they can get. But then if you have a family to feed and all that, it’s not so easy to make that choice.

              If Jackson lets that get in the way of the film being filmed in NZ, then I can’t see him really caring about it. We’ve got to be talking about a thousanth of the budget, at most. And Jackson would let that do so much damage to NZ?

              • weizguy

                Seems to me that there’s being passive and submissive, there’s instituting an international boycott, and there’s plenty of daylight between the two.

                I’ve got no problem with the union attempting to negotiate with Wingnut for conditions on the Hobbit. I do have a problem with them attempting to bind completely unrelated productions. Surely it isn’t appropriate for a future production to be bound by a decision in which they had no say.

                For what it’s worth, I’m a big fan of the ERA – I’m proud of the requirement for parties to act in good faith when bargaining. I just don’t believe the boycott was in good faith, and I believe it has backfired. It annoys me that we keep playing into Smile and Wave’s hands.

  81. Gosman 83

    A few questions that people on the left of the debate seem to be ignoring dealing with.

    Why is Helen Kelly cancelling Union meetings simply because she is afraif of angry workers? Surely it is a Union officials job to deal with worker who are upset or does this only apply when the workers are upset with the big bad boss?

    Why hasn’t the Labour Party come out in support of Helen Kelly’s stance on this one if she has done nothing wrong?

    • The Voice of Reason 83.1

      It’s a union official’s job to deal with union members, Gosman and the dispute has nothing to do with the Labour Party.

      • Gosman 83.1.1

        So the Labour movement has ditched the traditional solidarity that it historical has been famous for on this issue?

        I think I saw a number of Labour Politicians supporting the Union march on Parliament on Wednesday so they do swing in behind campaigns they agree with obviously.

        Surely they can’t let Helen Kelly be hung out to dry if she is on the side of right here.

  82. Gosman 84

    Four more to go to get 500.

  83. Gosman 85


  84. Gosman 86


  85. Gosman 87

    One… and BLAST OFF!

  86. Carol 88

    Open your eyes. Ask the, “Who benefits? questions,because all along, as far as I can see, behind this there are several other unanswered questions. And there are some major and very slick operators involved.

    It pretty much looks, from statements yesterday, that the actors and CTU had an agreement with Warners, so the dispute was called off at the weekend. PJ pretty much confirmed that in a statement he made. CTU and AE seemed totally surprised & bewildered by PJ’s statement that the union dispute was putting the filming of the Hobbitt in NZ at risk, because they thought it was all over.

    Who benefits from giving the impression that the unions have brought about the withdrawal of the Hobbit from NZ?

    Why did PJ suddenly release the statement when, according to him, there was nodecsion so far about where the filming would happen, only som strong messages they’d been given?

    Who benefits ……from creating this sense of impending disaster and union intractability?

    People who have been looking closely at the situation, such as Gordon Campbell, reckon that the Warners rep wouldn’t be coming to NZ, unless the filming location had already been decided. Why create a sense of uncertainty about that? Why would this rep come to NZ just to say & arrange the pulling of the plug? It is more likely, as English let slip, that the Warner’s rep is coming to NZ for some negotitations.

    Who benefits… from the sense of uncertainty, impending disaster, and the need for certainty?

    Even though PJ knows the union action was called off, he says tat Warners look like they are pulling out. Maybe he really believes that. Why would Warners give that impression, if the dispute was settled? Why make out it was due to unstable situation, even though it seems the situation was stabilised by CTU & AE?

    Who benefits?

    And today we have John Key announce that they will chamge the employment law and increase subsidies for filming in NZ. Big announcement. Why are they so confident that will do the trick, after PJ had been pretty sure the filming was going elsewhere? And after Key and Brownlee had been so sure that last night there was no more money on the table?

    Who is the big winner?

    There’s been some very sophisticated players in thsi issue. And the CTU & AE are minor in the scheme of things, and they’ve been played by far slicker outfits.

    • Bored 88.1

      Thanks Carol, qui bono is always the best approach to this type of issue. It happens all the time watching people get too involved in the details of the battle to stop and ask what is at stake, and who is going for it? Watching Campbell 90 percent over “polled” viewers said the Union was to blame for when asked who was responsible for the fiasco…the question should have been “do you believe your tax dollars should be given to an overseas film corporation?”

      • Carol 88.1.1

        Thanks, Bored. Yes, that’s a very good question. So now this money for an extra incentive for filming is available, when we have been told there is no money for so mmany other things that people need.

        And how come the whole situation can so easily be solved by a law change? Why wasn’t this suggested before, rather than Key and co. just using the issue to bash unions?

        The qui bono was on my mind when I woke up. Often I find when I go to sleep with a problem on my mind, my brain seems to sort it out while I sleep, and I have the solution when I first wake up.

  87. M 89

    Just saw Ian Mune interviewed by Pppa Wetzel and he likened the whole situation to the Chicken Little story. Anyone with a skerrick of sense can see this is a beat up to get tax concessions and is happy to have the actors be the fall guys.

    Needless to say Wetzel was her usual simplistic self – Ian asked her why the government was going to be involved in the negotiations and was it involved in her employment contract negotitiation process. He also laid out that the actors were trying to get together with the employer to discuss terms and conditions but that the employers had run off to their lawyers and refused to talk – says it all really.

    • Carol 89.1

      Exactly. Good on Mune. And I’m glad that point is being made on one main media outlet.

      Most of the MSM will just repeat the Cosby Textor lines (as have some rightie posters here, non-stop since yesterday morning).

      Behind all this are some ruthless operators, generating the main viral lines to be spread around the media, and who aim to win in whatever way they can.

    • comedy 89.2

      “Ian asked her why the government was going to be involved in the negotiations and was it involved in her employment contract negotitiation process. ”

      Perhaps the stupid old fuck should go to the same hospital for bewildered elder gents as Allan Hubbard.

      Last time I looked Wetzel wasn’t involved as an intricate part in a production which was bringing in a cool 500 million.

  88. KJT 90

    I have seen this sort of play so many times from both the union and management side I find it hard to believe it was not scripted. Helped of course by the naivety of the unions concerned.

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