The film-workers’ union is finally having a go at getting some decent terms and conditions from Peter Jackson.
Good. The film industry in New Zealand has been exploiting Kiwi workers for too long.
I’ve known quite a few film workers over the years, workers who were happy to work long hours for bugger all money when the industry was in its infancy simply because there wasn’t much money about and they were getting valuable experience.
But nowadays the industry has established itself, there’s clearly enough money for Jackson to have his own private jet and international stars are here shooting on a regular basis.
The thing is the terms and conditions haven’t changed – film workers are still being paid peanuts, being treated as independent contractors to avoid employment law, missing out on royalties and being blacklisted if they dare to complain.
But it looks like the boycott is working with big stars Sir Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving supporting it.
Jackson’s response would be funny if it wasn’t so nasty:
I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance.
I feel growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next four years, [and] the hundreds of millions of Warner Brothers dollars that is about to be spent in our economy.
You got that? The man with the $68m private jet and the castle and the millions of dollars of vintage aeroplanes and the knighthood says the union is greedy because it wants a fair deal for its members. And it’s not a matter of him keeping sub-standard work conditions, it’s a matter of national importance!
Jackson’s workers have been getting a rough ride for years and there’s been some good talent lost from the industry over the years as film-workers leave to go to higher paying and more secure jobs like waiting tables in cafes.
It’s about time someone spoke out. Good on the union and good on the big stars for backing these workers.