by Keith Locke
The dispute over the Hobbit shouldn’t be used to attack workers’ rights. Earlier this morning Gerry Brownlee spoke about ‘clarifying’ employment laws. Given National’s attacks on workers over union access and the 90 day fire at will trial periods I’m concerned this clarification will not be worker friendly. He now appears to want to cut contractors out of any collective discussions of their work conditions.
Also, Rob Lowe of the Employers and Manufacturers Association now wants the CTU to guarantee there would be no union action during Rugby World Cup.
Mr Lowe would be better focused on making sure his members treat workers fairly and pay decent wages and sort out health and safety problems in the workplace.
To listen to some of the players involved in the Hobbit dispute over the last day you would think the actors’ union representatives had committed treason.
Actually, they were just trying to get a film company to talk about standardising conditions for actors. It wasn’t easy to get to the table, even with support from actor colleagues around the world, who put off signing up to the movie.
Eventually Actors Equity, with the support of the CTU, did make progress with the NZ industry body SPADA resulting in an MOU on how to work out standard terms and conditions for actors on productions like the Hobbit.
This eased the way for union assurances on a smooth Hobbit production, and an end to the international ban on actor recruitment.
Let’s be positive and hope that all the parties (Warners, Peter Jackson and the union) can move ahead and make a great movie.