The repeal of the Hobbit law

Written By: - Date published: 12:24 pm, October 29th, 2017 - 70 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, jobs, john key, journalism, national, national/act government, Politics, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , , , , , , ,

It has been announced that the Labour-New Zealand First-Green government is going to, as a matter of urgency, repeal the Hobbit law, urgent legislation enacted by National in 2010 in a clumsy attempt to stop workers on film sites from acting collectively.

I hope they do. With a few others I would like to jump up and down and dance on its grave and remember the victims and curse the villains.

And I hope there is a sophisticated analysis by the main stream media of what happened and why repeal is important. But I will not hold my breath.

If they want to understand what happened then I suggest that they review the Standard posts from the time. I thought that this was the time when the Standard really started to shine and show that a public platform for progressive analysis, comment and debate was a good thing.

The cause of the dispute was relatively mundane although in principle it was important.

A worker for Three Foot Six Limited, Jackson’s company, had issues with his contract. He had a longstanding employment contract with an associated company.  His employer had supplied what it thought was a contract for services for him to sign but this was given six months after he had started work.  He was made redundant and then pursued a personal grievance, something he could only do if he was an employee as opposed being under a contract for services.

For a reason that I cannot comprehend litigation concerning the status of his contract made its way all the way to the Supreme Court. If Jackson had decided to pay him rather than Jackson’s lawyers then I am sure the matter would have been resolved quickly and economically. The cost in legal fees must have outweighed the potential liability by a considerable margin. And for all of the other workers who may or may not have been covered a constructive approach and careful drafting where new contracts were negotiated should have solved things.

But Jackson took umbrage at the original Employment Court ruling. And had to fight it all the way.

A full analysis of all of the circumstances of the contract was performed by the Supreme Court and it was held that the worker was an employee.

The weird thing is that the Supreme Court decision was given in 2005. There was lots of time to review and change contracts with people working in the film industry. But nothing happened for another 5 years.

Then in 2010 when preparations for the filming of the Hobbit in New Zealand were being made Actors Equity indicated that it wanted a collective deal for local film workers. The implications were significant for them but rather minuscule for the film industry in terms of its overall budget.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand, then president of Actors Equity characterized Actor’s Equity’s intent in these terms:

Our members are simply seeking fair and equitable employment terms for New Zealand actors, in line with the terms and conditions that their colleagues elsewhere in the world enjoy…. Many have no cost implications for the production, and the overall impact of our demands is miniscule for a production of this size.

She believed a solution could be found if producers would sit down “calmly” with the union and discuss the issues.

Peter Jackson thought otherwise. He refused to meet Actor’s Equity and his spokesperson said this:

“The simple fact is we can’t,” Matthew Dravitzki told NZPA. “The equity want to meet with Peter and Peter is one producer in a country of many producers and anything we agree to do in that meeting, would have an effect on everyone else working in this industry. And not everyone is working on a multi-million dollar production.”

Mr Dravitzki said the union wanted to set a precedent with The Hobbit that would affect everyone else in the industry, “and that can’t happen”.

This was published on October 1, 2010.

All hell then broke loose. Peter Jackson said that Warners were thinking of taking the filming of the Hobbit overseas.  New Zealand faced the prospect of losing the precious …

On October 2 IrishBill published this post and accurately predicted how the dispute would develop:

The playbook is an old one but one that is tried and true:

1. Find a way to demonise the union as an interfering third party (in this case bullyboy Aussie outsiders)

This is an essential story to set up from the start because it takes the public focus away from the the workers involved – a move that makes it hard to humanise the dispute and misdirects from the main point of the dispute (in this case the workers’ desire for minimum standards)

2. Claim the union has no mandate (in this case claiming it has no legal right to bargain and low membership)

This continues the outsider narrative and drives a wedge between union and non-union workers.

3. Threaten capital flight.

This pushes the wedge between union and non-union workers deeper and, in the case of a national industry, helps set the public against the union.

4. Keep moving the goalposts.

The news cycle is fast and shallow. If you can keep setting up new stories with different anti-union angles you force your opponents to be constantly reactive which drains their resources and keeps them on the back foot. It also works to keep the focus away from the the core dispute.

5. Play to your strengths (in this case the saint-like reputation Peter Jackson has)

I think it’s interesting to see Jackson has not appeared on radio or TV or, as far as I can tell, spoken directly to journalists at all. I suspect this is because his handlers have decided he would not be sympathetic talent in the flesh.

6. Get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

It’s hard to sustain the moral high ground for long with spin, over time the facts start to catch up and public opinion turns against you.

And that is exactly how it developed.  The threat of loss of the movie was extraordinary.  Seeking basic contractual levels which overseas jurisdictions enjoyed should not have been a deal breaker.  And moving the movie which was by then almost ready to start seemed to me to be a gross overreaction.

The parties negotiated in private and Actors Equity eventually relented and withdrew the advisory notice.  But then as IrishBill reported on October 21 this happened.

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.

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.

Just after this post went live on Radio New Zealand co-producers and co-writers of the movie Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens claimed that definite arrangements were being made to move the movie overseas.  They accused Helen Kelly of lying and referred to the Screen Actors Guild website where the advisory notice still appeared.  Helen’s instant response was brief but clear.  The boycott had been lifted.  They were waiting for Warners to confirm when a jointly agreed press release could be released publicly.

Here is where it gets really dark.  Helen Kelly subsequently released emails showing that the matter had been settled.  All they were waiting for was for Warners to agree to the release of the terms.  That they held up the release and went nuclear at the same time suggests very bad faith bargaining.

Kelly predicted that Warners would use the dispute to attempt and get further financial benefits from the Government.  How prescient her prediction was.  And looking back on it how bizarre.  To settle an already settled industrial dispute Warners were going to ask the New Zealand government for more money.

IrishBill on October 23 summarised the situation in this way:

There’s still a bit to play out now but everyone I talked to said the smart money is on the Government increasing the tax breaks to keep the film here. Given Fran O’Sullivan was already softening the ground for this today, I’d tend to agree.

There’s no doubt this is a hell of a mess and I expect the government will try to land it at the feet of the union because if they don’t it’s going to look like they got their arm twisted by a big Hollywood studio. And to be fair, AE were pretty amateur hour on this one.

But they weren’t the only ones, the truth seems to be that New Zealand got taken by a well organised and very aggressive production studio. And all for a tax-break that probably should have been offered in the first place. It just goes to show there’s no business like show business.

And so it came to pass.  Senior Warner representatives flew to New Zealand and were limousined to Government House where the deal was done.  Anthony Robins made this prediction just before and this conclusion just after the big announcement about the deal.

Here’s my prediction. Key will roll over and sell New Zealand’s employment law for thirty pieces of silver. He will have moved on tax breaks too, something moderate, enough to feed a significant quantity of taxpayer’s money to the studios, but he’ll be allowed to save some face. The Hobbit will stay in NZ.

Here’s my conclusion. Key has been played like a cheap violin. He piled in against Kiwi workers right from the start. The studios saw we had a muppet for a PM, and saw how easy it would be to exploit him to score a cheap few million. So they did.

But National had a problem.  You don’t just pay $33 million to an overseas corporation without political risk.  Someone else, preferably associated with your opponent had to be blamed.

And so National proposed urgent legislation to change the status of people working in the film industry to independent contractors and to suggest that this was the problem all along.  Urgent legislation to reverse the effect of the Bryson decision would be enacted.

As IrishBill noted:

[J]ust a quick note on the contractor change – the union took the action despite nearly every one of its members being an independent contractor. While this is arse for film industry employees (the few there are) it doesn’t really change a thing in law in relation to the Hobbit. In short it’s a meaningless distraction from the real issue of tax cuts.

But even this was fraught with problems.  National mucked up the drafting of the bill.  The amending bill said that people working in the film industry would be contractors but this did not apply if they were covered by an agreement that provides the person is an employee.  That was exactly the problem that Bryson resolved.  Arguably it did not change anything.

Labour MP Charles Chauvel was in a particularly good position to comment on the bill.  He was one of the counsel involved in the Supreme Court hearing of the Bryson case.  During the parliamentary debate on the bill he said this:

I can assure every member here that the [Bryson] case was fully argued, as the 20-page judgment from Justice Blanchard indicates. There is proof of the soundness of the decision of the court in the fact that the Bryson case was the last appeal, 5½ years ago, to have been heard on the question of how to resolve whether a workplace relationship is one of employee or contractor. The law reports do not contain another such case. The appeal settled the proposition that the law that has characterised an employment relationship at least for the past century in this country was unchanged by the Employment Relations Act. The law is this: all the attributes of the employment relationship have to be considered, not just the label attached to it by one or the other of the parties, whether at the start of the relationship or at some point while it is on foot.

This law has served us well. When I was in legal practice, my international employer clients, especially those from the US, Europe, or Australia, were generally struck by the flexibility that New Zealand law gave them in being able to set up business arrangements here. All that is needed is to take care to properly and honestly document the relationship at the outset.

The background that I have just described makes this amendment all the more outrageous, even before we consider the circumstances of its introduction. The lack of a basic understanding of the law that we have heard exhibited by Government speakers, including the Minister of Labour, just makes it worse. This amendment deprives workers in the film industry of the right to bargain collectively, by specifying that they should always be treated as contractors. But then it goes on to undermine that primary provision by specifying that if a worker is a party to an employment agreement, then he or she shall instead be an employee.

He finished by saying this:

People thought that they were choosing a brighter future under this Government. They thought that members opposite were ambitious for New Zealand. But once the euphoria of retaining The Hobbit in New Zealand wears off, and once all the union-bashing blood-lust dies away, people will be pretty disappointed with what remains: a Government that has reduced New Zealand, in the words of the Financial Times today, to the client status of an American film studio. People will realise that only under a Labour-led Government will Kiwis have any hope of owning their own future.

Given all of this background it is no wonder that Labour wants to rid the statute books of this law.

Labour’s pledge to repeal the Hobbit law has been met with cheers from Actors Equity.  From Radio New Zealand:

Actress and president of Equity New Zealand Jennifer Ward-Lealand said the time of the boycotts was ‘horribly extreme’ and the law should never have been passed.

“That certainly wasn’t something that we were challenging at all at the time… a change to the employment status of actors.

“We were just looking at the terms and conditions on the movies being equal to our overseas colleagues, so that law sort of literally came out of left-field.”

She said the law led to a significant deterioration in conditions for workers in the film industry and repealing it would stop the ‘race to the bottom’ actors faced.

“I think there were so many scare tactics that somehow this bunch of actors were going to send this production offshore when I think we all know that productions will go where rebates are good.”

In a text message to RNZ, Outrageous Fortune actress Robyn Malcolm said she was delighted the law will be repealed and that she cried in the airport when she heard the news yesterday.

“It was a hellish time for all of us and I am so happy that our new govt [sic] has seen to right this wrong straight off the bat.”

She described the National government’s decision to change the labour laws for a Hollywood production company as “nothing short of embarrassing”.

“The ONLY protection actors have is our ability to collectively bargain. This is a very unusual, inconsistent and potentially very exploitative industry. Actors really want to work and if the conditions they work under aren’t protected then the entire profession is eroded,” she said.

She said she wished her friend and trade unionist Helen Kelly, who campaigned against the change in labour laws, was alive to see the the news.

The intent of the Act, to prevent workers in the film industry from engaging in collective action, is reprehensible and breaches all sorts of international conventions on the rights of workers.  The law was a blatant attempt to denigrate and blame others for the mess the Government made of the issue.  Repealing it quickly is the only right thing to do.

70 comments on “The repeal of the Hobbit law”

  1. Keepcalmcarryon 1

    Thanks for breaking that down, what a sordid episode it was. Great news labour are canning an unjust law.
    Pretty disappointed with Peter Jackson to say the least.

    • The Fairy Godmother 1.1

      I have never watched the Hobbit movie because of it.

      • Richard Christie 1.1.1

        You didn’t miss anything. Jackson merely exposed himself as being king of splatter movies, his real forte.

        • Carolyn_nth 1.1.1.1

          I think Jackson’s success has been in supporting and promoting Weka workshops/digital.

          His film successes are really based in the VFX and CGI used.

          And, at the time of the Hobbit law, it was technicians at Weta Workshops who supported the law change – they stood to benefit the most from international work that came their way.

          But it wasn’t such a great law for other workers in the industry, like actors.

      • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.2

        I haven’t watched any of the Hobbit movies, either.

        I was never a great Jackson fan to start with, but this dodgy Hobbit law was a disgraceful episode. Will be happy to see the law repealed.

        • The Fairy Godmother 1.1.2.1

          And the books are great. I much prefer the LOTR books to the movies.

          • Bearded Git 1.1.2.1.1

            jackson cannot ever be forgiven for leaving the “scouring of the shire” out of the end of LOTR. Shambles.

      • nzsage 1.1.3

        That sums it up perfectly for me (Keepcalmcarryon).

        I still feel a huge sense of disappointment in Peter Jackson whose judgement and loyalty to New Zealand workers appeared clouded by his own ambition.

    • Wairua 1.2

      Unfortunately, this is not new ..

      “The novel follows a young artist from the Yale School of Fine Arts named Tod Hackett, who has been hired by a Hollywood studio to do scenic design and painting. While he works he plans an important painting to be called “The Burning of Los Angeles,” a portrayal of the chaotic and fiery holocaust which will destroy the city. While the cast of characters Tod befriends are a conglomerate of Hollywood stereotypes, his greater discovery is a part of society whose “eyes filled with hatred,” and “had come to California to die.”[1] This undercurrent of society captures the despair of Americans who worked and saved their entire lives only to realize, too late, that the American dream was more elusive than they imagine. Their anger boils into rage, and the craze over the latest Hollywood premiere erupts violently into mob rule and absolute chaos.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_of_the_Locust

    • simbit 1.3

      And what does Jackson know about Weinstein’s raping? Surely not zero…

  2. Keith 2

    But Peter Jackson, “Sir Peter”, (the now notorious “Sir” label for the rouges gallery emphasis) fucked the actors and film industry over here, to make his millions, Key got to dump all over those who tried to be properly compensated by way of a union and probably, as became the norm, those who didn’t vote National and Warner Bros laughed all the way to the bank at New Zealand’s easy corporate welfare hand outs.

    But the net result ultimately was to identify that our smiley easy going PM was about as trustworthy as an online Nigerian investment adviser and Jackson as a total self serving loathsome arsehole, and one whose films I personally will avoid forever because of this and who, if his future films all bombed, would not be karma enough for most of us.

  3. cleangreen 3

    Peter jackson was bought by National and then warner Bros simple as that!!!

    Peter Jackson is a traitor and a treasonous greey person – he is disgraceful.

    Repeal ofthe hobbit law is needed now that he has been disgraced and sided with warner bros to rob and fleece the taxpayer of NZ.

  4. red-blooded 4

    This was always a shonky piece of legislation and a disgraceful (and stupid) intrusion into what should have been an employment negotiation/arbitration process. The whole “but they’ll take it away if we don’t throw our people under the bus” spin line was classic National, and they pretty much got away with it at the time. of course, it came out later that it was an empty threat and – as shown above – the dispute had been settled, anyway.

    A great move by Labour. They’ll have to throw some light on the lies and spin, though – let’s remember that most of the media bought it unquestioningly, at the time, and I think it will have become an accepted truth in most people’s minds.

  5. Ad 5

    Outstanding post Mickey.

    Whatever happened to Charles Chauvel?

    And Irish Bill?

    • Tracey 5.1

      Charles Chauvel went off to the UN after Helen Clark.

    • Bearded Git 5.2

      +100…brilliant post….thank goodness we have got rid of Key..and Brownlee..and Smith..and English..and Barry…and Bridges….and Bennett…and Collins….and….oh this feels so gooood

  6. tracey 6

    Thanks Mickey. I was annoyed but not surprised when tvnz news ran this story and again peddled the fiction that NZ was going to lose The Hobbit. It seems no matter how many times the facts are presented some just do not want to accept them. Warners had already spent tens of millions setting up for the Hobbit here. A move offshore would mean having to spend tgat again somewhere else.

    They should call it the Kelly Act and unwind some other bullshit employment laws while at it

  7. Carolyn_Nth 7

    I also recall, that there have been connections made between John Key’s links to Warners and the Motion Picture Association of America, not just with the Hobbit law, but with the TPPA, copyright laws, and the pursuit of Kim Dotcom.

    See for instance, this NZ Herald article of Oct 2012:

    Kim Dotcom and the Megaupload case was raised with Prime Minister John Key by former senator and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Chris Dodd at a dinner attended by top movie moguls last night.

    Studio bosses also raised their concerns that the Trans Pacific Partnership should include strong intellectual property protection provisions, Mr Key told the Herald from Los Angeles this morning.

    Mr Key is currently on a four day trip to Hollywood, hosted by Avatar filmaker James Cameron and Mr Cameron’s business partner Jon Landau. Mr Key is promoting New Zealand as a film making location.

    Mr Key also confirmed that studio heads present including the heads of Fox, Disney Warner Brothers, Universal, Sony and MGM studios also “talked a bit about intellectual property, but really more in the context of TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and those negotiations”.

    And see this CNN article on KDC’s Moment of Truth event:

    He [KDC] has repeatedly outlined his beliefs that the New Zealand government decided to grant him residence in 2010 — over the objections of intelligence officials — only in order to facilitate his extradition to the United States.
    He claims he was used as a bargaining chip in the New Zealand government’s negotiations with Hollywood executives over the filming of “The Hobbit” trilogy. Warner Brothers were threatening to relocate the production of the films in a spat over New Zealand’s employment laws, at around the same time in October 2010 at which Dotcom’s residency application was being considered.

    Key has previously rejected those claims, saying he did not know of Dotcom’s existence until more than a year later, immediately prior to his arrest.

    So basically it’s a situation of fuzzy claims and counter claims, so who knows what the full truth is?

  8. ankerawshark 8

    I think the fact that Peter Jackson owns a private jet (? 90 million $) and his workers are exploited (work long hours, on fixed terms with no guaranteed employment say’s it all.

    I remember him being on t.v. saying “I just want to make my movie” like a whining victim……………………………………

    I hold the man in contempt.

  9. SpaceMonkey 9

    I imagine when Jackson went to Hollywood, he met with Les Grossman type and was told:

    “Ask and you shall receive… you play ball, we play ball… I know you want the goodies… you paying attention? G5 and lots of money… that’s how we roll… frequent flyer bitch miles for my boy… oh yeah, play-er!!”

    Jackson doubled down. He obviously wanted the goodies.

  10. georgecom 10

    One factor that prompted National to take the move it did was right at that time unions were taking on National over some employment law or proposed employment law. Jackson had a game to play and Warner Brothers played National like a guitar. The National Govt seized the opportunity to dump on unions and turn the whole matter into a seeming national disaster.

    Repeal the law and put things right. I doubt however I will bother ever watching another Jackson movie. Haven’t since. His attitude at the time sucked and until I see evidence it has changed I need notwatch anything he makes

  11. Sparky 11

    Sounds like a petty distraction from their TPP11 antics to me.

  12. Philg 12

    I thought this was was standard business practice that would be learnt from business colleges. Not surprising at all.

  13. xanthe 13

    sorry but I just dont get this
    How can work on a movie possibly be anything else than a fixed term contract?
    Thats what a movie is FFS
    Its a good commonsense law! leave it alone.

    yes I did watch the Hobbit and it absolute overblown Dreck. very disappointed.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1

      The supreme court found otherwise in the Bryson case. The judgement is linked in the OP.

      The Judge found that the real nature of the employment was that of a contract of service. There was no evidence Mr Bryson was acting as a separate business entity. He had arrived by transfer from Weta and took up the position he was offered. It was not a short-term position and he had no other employment while he was with Three Foot Six. He had model making skills but no relevant experience for his new position. He required six weeks training. He could not be said to have been contracting his skills. Much of the crew deal memo read like a contract of service. Three Foot Six closely controlled his work. He was expected to work regular hours and was treated as an employee, being paid for downtime. The Judge emphasised that her decision was based solely on the individual circumstances of Mr Bryson’s employment and was not to be regarded as affecting the status of any other employee in the film industry…

      And plenty more besides.

      In other words, whether you’re an employee or a contractor comes down to the individual circumstances of your job, not whatever Mr. Peter Jackson reckons. Or at least, it did.

      • xanthe 13.1.1

        yes that case was very specific and the Court ruled appropriately for those circumstances.

        that really just strengthens the case for a law to make these matters clear.
        The fact is that the nature of the film industry is work with a clear end point and no guarantee past that point. Thats how it is ! contracts MUST reflect that or they are dysfunctional. (and will end up in the supreme court as in Bryson)

        • McFlock 13.1.1.1

          A fixed term employment contract is fundamentally different to a fixed term contract for service.

          Employers tell staff what to do: “put that fence up there. Turn up at 8am. Have a tea break right now, instead of in half an hour. Change that fence, we’ll put in a gate. Store the gear over there. This is how you hammer in a nail”.

          Contractors agree to build a fence on the agreed plans, beyond the terms of the contract how they do it is up to them.

          Used to be at that time, anyway. Haven’t hired anyone myself in a few years – except a plumber, who was definitely not an employee because I just said “that water there – shouldn’t be there. That pipe there – should have water come out when I turn the tap.” Contractor, see.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1.2

          that really just strengthens the case for a law to make these matters clear…work with a clear end point and no guarantee past that point.

          Employees on fixed-term contracts are not contractors — they’re employed by you and entitled to all the same benefits as a permanent employee. They’re hired to do work that only exists for a set time frame, eg a short-term project or cover for parental leave.

          So the fact of fixed term contracts is a red herring, and the law already was clear.

          Please note, the film industry will still be able to employ contractors after the law change. Does that cover all your areas of concern?

          • BM 13.1.1.2.1

            What’s the advantage of being on a fixed term contract? compared to being a contractor.

            Being a contractor I claim business costs, gst that sort of stuff, can’t do that as an employee, I’d also expect to get paid at a much higher rate because I don’t get sick leave, holidays, kiwi saver.

            Personally, I’d prefer being a contractor, but I’m interested to hear why that’s actually a bad idea?

            • Andre 13.1.1.2.1.1

              The employer deals with all the IRD paperwork, there’s also holiday pay and sick pay (if the term is long enough and it’s fixed hours not casual). When you come on as an employee, even a casual, rather than a contractor, the other employees you work with treat you more as a team member rather than as just another seagull contractor.

              If the rates work out to more or less equal, then I’ll usually prefer a casual employee agreement to a contractor’s agreement because the extra dollars from rorting GST and other expenses just isn’t worth the extra paperwork hassle. On the rare occasions I’ve gone with a contractor agreement, the feeling I’m taking improper advantage of a scam that ordinary wage earners can’t access doesn’t do much for my self-respect, either.

              • BM

                That’s what accountants are for.

                • Andre

                  Yeah. But I still have to keep all the paperwork together and deal with them.

                  Gawd I hate having to interact with ticket-clipping parasites that create nothing useful and are only needed because other accountant-types have made systems unnecessarily complicated.

                  • BM

                    It’s not that difficult, once you’ve got a system in place.

                    • Andre

                      A lot of it appears to come down to a difference in values.

                      Looking at your response to McFlock, it appears you get a kick out of grubbing up anything you can use as a tax reduction. It almost looks like you consider it a virtuous duty to deprive the government of revenue in any way possible.

                      Me, I prefer to spend my time doing things I consider productive and minimise irritants. If that means I pay a bit more in taxes, I’m ok with that. Cos the government mostly puts it to good use doing things I value.

                    • David C

                      Andre.
                      It comes down to personal circumstance.
                      When i started out as a knuckle dragging contractor I didnt have the choice. Contract around 10% above wages or zero work, but after a while (and a few employees) I felt I needed a firewall from potential litigation so a family trust happened.. then a trading trust… with a firewall in between.
                      Its been 20++ years since I have earned single $ in my own name.
                      Cant imagine now putting myself personally on the line for anything….why would I? The earnings are not the issue…its the liability..

                    • Andre

                      David, that raises another good point in favour of being an employee in some circumstances. There’s no question that liability is on the employer.

                      One of the projects I took on as a consultant was helping a former employer recover from a colossal fuck-up. I made sure I had a separate all-care no-responsibility document for that. Taking out the necessary insurance or accepting any liability for that would have been a lot more than the project was worth.

              • Et Tu Brute

                That’s almost a fresh take on ‘not in my back yard-ism’ – you don’t like the GST-rort, parasites and paperwork, so you get an employer to do it for you. Your employer then gets all your deductions, hires the parasites (accountants, lawyers, HR etc…), and then pays you less than a contractor for the privilege.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1.2.1.2

              Depends on circumstances. No-one said it’s a bad idea.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1.2.1.3

              For the employer too: what’s your hourly rate compared to an employee?

              • David C

                needs to be at least 140% above wages. 170% is better, allows for actual downtime.

                Sometimes on a contract tho…you know you can cream it… 70 hrs a week… huge money so you knock the rate back.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  It was a rhetorical question. Your figures look a bit low to me. Perhaps things have changed since I studied, because the recommended charge-out rate then was 3x wages. Certainly that’s always worked* for me.

                  *ie: overheads etc all covered.

            • McFlock 13.1.1.2.1.4

              Being an employee I have very few costs, pretty much everything I need to do the job is supplied by my employer. I still get paid if I have a sick day. Not to mention employer contributions to my retirement savings.

              Horses for courses.

              • BM

                Being an employee I have very few costs

                I disagree, an employee has a few of costs

                Getting to and from work, maintaining a car, clothing, lunch, general schmoozing/drinking(marketing), office(bedroom or where ever you park your laptop) and all the other “businesses related expenses”

                Depends on how creative you want to be, the thing is though all this shit becomes tax deductible once you become a contractor, you can easily cut your tax obligations in half.

                • McFlock

                  Contractors don’t have to buy lunch?
                  Business related expenses are sorted by the employer. If it requires special clothing, it’s supplied by the boss. Having an office at home and transport costs might make being a contractor more preferable under some circumstances.

                  Sure, you can play funny with tax deductions as a contractor, but to be better off than a paid employee? It depends on the individual circumstances. The way some small business owners bitch, I doubt they’re better off much of the time.

                  • BM

                    Your boss pay your costs to get to work and gives you money for clothing and lunch?

                    You’re very lucky I know of no other employee who gets that.

                    • McFlock

                      My transport costs are fuckall.
                      When I’ve had jobs that required specific clothing, like uniforms or safety gear, it was provided by the employer. Had that in several jobs.

                      The only thing they don’t pay for is lunch, unless I’m traveling because of work. In which case I get a per diem. But then does my plumber get to write off his lunch break as a business expense?

                      For daily clothes, work-related wear and tear on the arse of my pants is minimal.

                      So yeah, maybe as a contracter I might spend time doing the paperwork to get write-offs, and all that shit. I doubt that, in my case, the work involved would amount to a decent wage for the hole it would make in my personal time – calculating, filing, checking the IRD made the right payments. Whereas I do nothing in my own time and have a nice regular, predictable pay cheque.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh snap, I just realised that you’re talking white collar, where you get to write-off lunches if you talk business, whereas I’m thinking blue-collar, where countdown give you the generic uniform and you buy your own lunch.

                      The exception that comes to mind is tradestaff who often bring their own tools even in employment – but then they might also get a tool allowance for that, depending on employer.

            • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1.2.1.5

              Being a contractor I claim business costs, gst that sort of stuff, can’t do that as an employee, I’d also expect to get paid at a much higher rate because I don’t get sick leave, holidays, kiwi saver.</blockquote.
              That's what you'd expect but it's not what usually happens. Often contractors are paid less than an actual employee for the same job. Often, once all expenses have been paid, holiday and sick pay taken out, contractors can have an income less than the minimum wage.

              They do get some advantages such as being able to claim expenses but they're still living in poverty.

              • David C

                Draco.
                i was 22 yrs old when I became a contractor.
                That year i earnt three times the last years wages.

                • ankerawshark

                  Yes David C, but it doesn’t mean it is like that for the people who work at Weta.

                  On the topic of Mr Jackson’s movies, aside from the special effects fest, the two other films he produced/directed were extremely morbid disturbing topics. One being Heavenly Creatures (I assume everyone know what this is about) and the other The Lovely Bones about a young girl who is murdered/assaulted? by a pedophile (I have to admit I am not entirely sure of the plot line, because I didn’t want to know)……………….

                  ………………………….just saying…………..

                • So?

                  That may have been you. It may even apply to others. But it doesn’t apply across the board.

                  A family member of mine in the construction industry tripled his discretionary income moving onto PAYE. Thing is, he was actually on a lower hourly rate. With everything supplied by the company instead of claiming expenses he was much better off.

                  Now consider, in Auckland 90% or more of carpenters are on contract as subcontractors.

  14. Delia 14

    Well I have never watched a Jackson film since.

    • xanthe 14.1

      “Well I have never watched a Jackson film since.”

      you not missing anything, sadly ….. unless you want to marvel over the CGI cleverness.

    • Union city greens 14.2

      I haven’t paid to watch a Jackson movie since, either.
      Truth be told, I can’t watch his stuff, like I can’t watch Tom Cruise post Scientology weirdness and attacks on women and mental health.
      He’s forever tainted to be put aside for shallow entertainment.

      • BM 14.2.1

        Edge of Tommorrow is a really good movie,
        Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt were awesome, well worth a look.
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1631867/

        • boggis the cat 14.2.1.1

          Some people use boycott as a political tool, BM. In a consumer society, not giving money (or eyeballs, in the case of advertising supported platforms) to a corporation or real person is one of the few ways to express disapproval.

          I don’t boycott individuals, but I understand why some choose to.

  15. mosa 15

    Mickey i don’t think Key or the government were ” played ” by Warners.

    I think the National led government saw the opportunity to take the stick to workers and in this case and knew the public were sensitive to the possible threat by Warners to take the films and make them elsewhere if they could not reign in the union and its reasonable demands.

    Key and his approach to this and other high profile projects only confirmed what thinking New zealanders already knew that he was prepared to forsake his own people for corporate profit.

    And that John Key is such a ” lovely guy “

  16. Acting Up 16

    As a member of Equity NZ, I am delighted to see this repugnant situation about to be sorted.

    Jackson has little credibility on this.

    As for his movies, I hear a lot about his projects and plans lately (Dambusters??) but have seen little evidence of much creativity. Some lack lustre films after Lord of the Rings saw him return to Tolkein for another draw from the well, but to no great success.

    I imagine that “coasting on past glories” is now the story.

    Meanwhile, we look to Taika W for some real director value!!

    • David C 16.1

      Taika…has reached his “value’ getting paid off for producing crap…Thor…omg what shite.

    • boggis the cat 16.2

      “The Lovely Bones” was quite good. A great set of actors, too.

      I think that Jackson is a decent director, but not very good at editing.

  17. eco maori 17

    The way I saw that issue is that was Key was in play with that from start to Finnish thats the neo liberal ideal philosophy Big business first and humans second come on people we no that Monopoly and any big bushiness that control there market are going to __________ us over. So I say make laws to stop this every business need competition to keep them honest .
    As for Steven Joyce He is why we are paying so much at the super market thats not hard to workout . What has he and key done well the look at our fuel and food power all have there prices ramped up we need more competition in all of these sectors .
    And transparency well we no that national were the least transparent govement we have had come on people ignore those idiots and be your self and just smile One of my bosses ran a marathon he was all pleased with him self but i was laughing he was in pain me personalty I like to get paid for my pain good on you people for beening good role models for our mokos. Kia Kaha

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