Hobbit fallout mustn’t affect workers’ rights

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.

186 Comments Posted

  1. My rough calculations suggests that the additional sweeteners for Warners equate to the extra costs of producing in NZ given the collapse of the US dollar.
    Much of the tension has occurred because of the nature of “Socratic” contracts. Socrates and Confucius lived at about the same time. Socrates established the supremacy of the rule of law by committing suicide rather than break the law. Confucius had little faith in the rule of law and promoted the rule of virtue and harmony.
    A “Confucian” contact always opens with a statement that the parties intend to work to mutual benefit. This is the most important clause in the contract. In a Socratic contract it is dismissed as preamble. Its the lines that count. Let me tell a true story.
    An Australian company was shipping scrap metal to Japan. They entered a contract on price etc and sent off the scrap. Half was to Japan the currency moved hugely in Australia’s favour. The Aussies cracked open the champagne and celebrated their new found gains. (There was no currency clause in the contract.) Finally the ship arrived in Japan but the port was busy and no room to berth. This went on for weeks until the Aussies benefits had been whittled away by the costs of delay. So with much muttering about thieving Japanese the Aussies negotiated a mutallly beneficial rate. The then while the second shipload was in midstream the currency swung hugely in favour of the Japanese.
    The Japanese phoned the Aussies and suggested they should renegotiate the price to maintain mutual benefit and the harmony of the original contract.
    They still do business.

  2. phil says “so..the total amount the gummint is giving jackson/warners….”

    but he omits one word – back.

    $90m is the amount we are giving Warners “BACK”.

    So this all comes from part of what they first have to pay in tax.

    If they didn’t make the movie here, we would even have the money to give “BACK” to them.

    Phil is so upset about our film industry being saved, thousands of people getting jobs, and marketing spin-offs that will be a huge benfit to our country for years, that he just has to be as negative as possible about everything.

    I’m sure Phil would much prefer if Key had not been able to save the Hobbit.

    Though if that had happened there’s not a shred of doubt that Phil would have blamed Key for the unions cock-up.

    It’s just what you do when you blindly follow ideology.

  3. Owen, the issues that have been under debate over the last week or so have nothing to do with the documents Farrar is posting on Kiwiblog.

    That dispute was settled and the no-contract SAG action withdrawn early last week, but Warners and Jackson pursued the issue anyway. To what end? Obviously, to undermine the Bryson judgment from the Supreme Court (which the Nats have bought into), and attempt to pin it all the damage on Equity (who I agree were pretty ham-fisted and OTT about how they went about negotiations).

    But step back a minute – who are the nasty bastards here. Equity, who overplayed their hand, or Warner Bros, who chose to exploit that to undermine New Zealand’s employment law and score an additional taxpayer funded subsidy into the bargain courtesy of John Key.

    Key is meant to be a great negotiator, but in this instance, I think he has been negotiating for Warner Brothers, rather than NZ workers and taxpayers. After all, he has admitted one of the Warners Execs who came here to negotiate is a mate of his. Surely, identification of conflict of interest should have had Key recusing himself from the negotiations.

    Mind you, then Gerry Brownlee would have probably led them, and given his meticulous attention to detail, we may have got a worse option. Perhaps the job should have gone to Steven Joyce, who at least, despite his obsession with roads inspired by his wish to succeed Lockwood Smith in the Rodney electorate, has Ministerial and commercial competence.

    But I guess Joyce doesn’t have the time to be Minister of Everything, and in the Nats’ Cabinet, there is hardly anyone else who cuts the mustard.

  4. That is the point Owen.
    You are all arguing about who said what and when. Ignoring the main point which was the right to solidarity to get an employer to negotiate.

    The media seem to think we should not have these rights. NACT think freedom of association should only apply when it benefits them. Like students associations.
    A union is allowed to have industrial action for employment rights and conditions. When it is against multi National companies, which can go anywhere, it has to be multinational.
    What you are all saying is yes, but only if it can never be spun by right wing biased media and National.

    Or are you saying all rights to strike for employment conditions should be totally removed because it may be inconvenient and big employers may threaten capital flight..

    Unlike other countries, it is already illegal for employees to collectively negotiate for conditions, as “independent contractors” and the right to strike is severely limited for all workers.

    PJ was happy to hold a gun to all our heads for LOTR.

  5. I think you all need to go to Kiwiblog (offensive as that may be for some) and read the two letters from the Union.
    A Jackson says there was never a request for a meeting that did not have a gun to his head.

  6. There is a new post on this issue over here, covering recent developments and including Green MPs’ speeches on the Bill currently being debated (it might be a good idea to listen to them before commenting). I suggest we should move the discussion on this issue over there.

  7. so..the total amount the gummint is giving jackson/warners….

    ..is $90+ million…

    (that figure again…$90+ million…)

    and that piece from campbell is a worthwhile read….

    and photonz…i guess you are one of those people able to be fooled all of the time…



  8. Kerry – started to read Campbell but right from the start he’s factually wrong about amounts and percentages, and he misquotes people.

    If he can’t get his basic facts right then it sounds little more than misinformed verbal diarrhoea.

  9. phil says “..how f*cken dumb does he/they think we are…?”

    If he ever reads your posts he’ll get a good idea.

  10. i see jackson has issued a press release …thanking everyone…

    ..(well he would..wouldn’t he..?..)

    ..what i want to know is how much of that $33 million..

    ..had a positive effect on his bottom-line…

    …basically…what was his cut on the soaking he and warners gave us…?

    ..how many mill did he fold into his back pocket…?

    ..that’s what i want to know…

    ..i don’t want his mealy-mouthed/coy platitudes…

    ..how f*cken dumb does he/they think we are…?


  11. Shunda

    I am quite sure that this wasn’t the NZ union.

    As I pointed out earlier, if the New Zealanders had voted for it, that would have been publicized early and often to help diffuse and deflect the criticism of MEAA Australia.

    You look carefully at their statements about what was voted for and who went on strike and what was being asked for.

    I’d be astonished if our local actors had any part in this except as pawns. I am pretty sure that beyond the error of trusting MEAA, they made no other real mistakes. Except maybe then maintaining solidarity when he opened the bomb-bay doors and told them all to get ride the bomb down. (Insert image from Dr Strangelove here).


  12. At the very best the union has shown an astonishing lack of wisdom, at the very worst (from what BJ said) they were paid off by Warners.

    Either way they have no integrity and are a disgrace to the principles of workers rights.

  13. Phil … In the end it was all about the money. I never said otherwise. (Try using an AND clause, not an either-or)…. but there never was much of an option of removing Whipp. (Although I am not sure that Helen Kelly left him anything with which to reproduce).

    That doesn’t make Whipp and his mob any more welcome. If you look at his performance and that of the CTU, you have to admit that the circumstantial evidence favors my interpretation his persona-non-grata status in the NZ labor movement.

    As for what would have happened if he hadn’t intervened, we almost certainly won’t ever be able to answer that.

    …but as for WB saying “thank you Lord”, I reckon you’re right about that part.


  14. “..There is zero evidence for an assertion that the WB act would have happened anyway. i reckon the scam was always gonna be ‘on’..eh..?..”

    yeah..there is the pattern to consider tho’..eh..?

    ..as in jackson and the movie dudes did this with lotr…

    ..and it also worked a treat then..

    ..’circumstantial’..i know…

    ..but the case is strong…

    ..and i’m not expecting a confession..anytime soon..

    ‘it’sall about the money’..b.j….not aussie bogey-men…eh..?

    (and if you want to slide in beside the old climate-change-denial (paid) agent provocateur..?..

    ..feel free..!..)


  15. For the record, since the picture is SO small, I am a he, not a she.

    …and married with kids.

    …and old enough to have actually voted for McGovern.


  16. phil – so should we all align our views not to the evidence and facts, but rather to align with certain people?

    I does seem to be the way you and some others here often think. It seems more important for you to have a position that is anti-right / anti-business / anti-govt, than it is to have a position that is right.

    I often disagree with bj, but at least he/she usually puts forward arguements based on thoughtful reasoning instead blindly following mantra.

  17. When an old man starts waiving a gun around, it’s more likely he’ll just shoot himself in the foot.

    Peter Jackofson’s product will suffer in the long run. It’s amazing how gullible people are though… Even a lot of so-called lefties bought it lock stock and barrel. It’s a bit like the dairy industry; where we are getting shafted in three ways:

    1. The dairy industry has been the main player in ruining our environment with nearly all Rivers unfit to drink from let alone swim in because of effluent and other discharge. Very few have signage to indicate their toxicity.

    2. We subsidize the dairy industry with our tax dollar so that they can apparently compete on an international level. What a crock! The whole poor farmer because the cold killed their cows crap was disgusting. Stop inseminating cows so that you have early birthing assholes!

    3. We pay international prices for our own countries produce. Have you seen the price of cheese lately? What a rip off! But again we have bought the con. Meanwhile kids still go to school without shoes or lunches. You reap what you sow NZ.

    Compare that to the NZ movie industry and there really isn’t all that much difference. Environmentally it might be a bit better, but financially the cost to the NZ taxpayer is morally worse. I’m glad I quit the movie industry when I did. I predict the Hobbit movies are going to be about half as good as LOTR. I look forward to downloading them.

  18. Phil

    When have I ever said anything which would lead you to believe that my opinion is influenced by who happens to agree with me on any given issue?

    There is zero evidence for an assertion that the WB act would have happened anyway. i reckon the scam was always gonna be ‘on’..eh..?

    I always presented the evidence and logic I was following, and I don’t notice anything “wrong” being called to my attention here. Just that some people I don’t USUALLY agree with having the same views on this particular issue.

    Facts lead where they lead Phil. I am not bashful when I am supporting legalization of Pot, nor about Climate, nor about economics… and when I see something like this I follow the same rule. The real world rules.

    If you think I can be upset that Owen sees some things the same as I, well, I just can’t work out where you’d get such a notion.


  19. Phil:

    and..what came first..? ..the union or the scam…? i reckon the scam was always gonna be ‘on’..eh..?

    You know, you may be bang on the money with that observation, but there had to be a lever to make it happen, it couldn’t just happen “out of the blue”.

  20. and hey..!..bj..

    why don’t you have a look around and see who nods in agreement with you..



    and re the kiwiblog reference…

    …it is actually your views that are currently being shouted there…

    …go figure..!


    and mcshane..?..eh..?..(snigger..!..)

    ..the climate-change-denier is calling others ‘irrelevant’…



  21. the films’ producers…jackson/walsh/boyen..

    …have been in meetings all morning…with warners-execs..

    (that’d be deciding the carve-up of the 30 plus mill..eh..?

    ..haven’ they ‘done well..?…


    ..it worked on lotr…

    (in fact..jackson is serial exile-threatener..as a taxpayer-funds-exraction-tool..)

    ..and now it has worked again…

    and..what came first..?

    ..the union or the scam…?

    i reckon the scam was always gonna be ‘on’..eh..?

    union or no union..

    ..they must have thought ‘yes..!..there is a god..!’..those producers/warners..

    ..with the delivery/dove-tailing of that strawman/scapegoat/diversion/’justification’..


    all in all..

    ..a ‘good’ coupla weeks-work … for them…



  22. For the film industry, this change of law (assuming it does what I think it will do) will turn back the clock to how it was prior to the Bryson judgment, which for most workers in the industry is not actually a change.

    The film industry is a unique industry; there are many big and big multinational industrial sectors, but none that work in quite the same way that the movies business does (and always has).

    This isn’t a one sided beatup: There are groups of employees who would like to have the right to be a contractor and not get challenged by the courts (or the IRD) enshrined in law.

  23. DBuckle.

    I agree and Key probably got the best deal possible. I am still not happy about the beat up or changing employment laws in a way which will have unforeseen consequences. Even the manufacturers federation agrees. They reckon present law works fine. It is only employers like Telecom and the film industry, who want to offer contractors lesser conditions than employees, who object to the law as it is. .

    I suppose in future every time a union dares to ask for better pay and conditions and joins with other unions to do so we will get the same ignorant beat up.

    Though it will not be in the film industry as they will no longer have a legal right to negotiate as a group.

  24. Kerry; you’re absolutely right of course, which brings us right back to the question that sprout wont answer: do you want to be right, or do you want to have a film production industry?

    Paupers like us can’t be right and have a film production industry.

  25. http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2010/10/greatest-story-ever-told.html

    The only thing that the union movement has is solidarity.

    The Parnell saga continued.

    Employer. “If you insist on an 8 hour day we will shift our business back to England”.

    Carpenter. “The Carpenters in England will refuse to work in your business if you do not talk to us.

    Media. “The sky is falling”.

    Employer. “Foul. The peasants are telling me how to run my business. I am throwing my toys out of the cot unless I get more money from the Government and the law is changed so carpenters have to work under any conditions I want”.

    JK. “Alright”.

    It is no more blackmail for international unions to band together to improve employment conditions than it is for international big business to threaten capital flight to get more subsidies/cheaper labour/repressive labour laws.

    It most cases, if that is all that is keeping them, they will find somewhere more repressive of workers with lower wages and go eventually anyway.

    The only mistake the union movement made, is being naive, and trusting that once a deal was made the other side would stick to it.

    NACT tried to spin the Teachers strike. Then they tried to pull the same tactic with the health workers. At some stage they were going to score a hit.

  26. Samiam

    I would say you have a point, but I would still be happier if the Prime Minister’s role was given to co-leaders at the next election.

    … and how would we handle that? 🙂


  27. And the third point, BJ, is that once projects numbers coming to NZ drop, the infrastructure starts to crumble as the people follow the work and go offshore, and then our capability to handle projects, and especially the top class projects, all starts to wither and die.

  28. @BJ “Not happy that it will help Key get re-elected”
    I have no problem with that so long as the Greenz get into that government and steer the blue ship on a green(er) course. Coke or Pepsi, who cares.

  29. If you want to find the prime cause look at the collapse of the US dollar.
    A host of international contracts are either about to be renegotiated or have fallen apart.

    Dealing with volatile currencies requires the Confucian approach to contract.

    Rule bound contractual arrangements do not work.

  30. Look at the name of this post.
    the only workers whose rights are affected are the people working in the film industry.
    Try and find someone working in the film industry who disapproves of the clarification and I will listen to her or him.
    But Phil U’s opinion is totally irrelevant.

  31. I doubt very much that they did (put ou entire film industry at risk)

    I think they did. Two ways.

    First is the negative example. WB pulls out, the studio exec who might first think about working with us is going to first think of somewhere else. “If WB couldn’t make a guaranteed winner here, what chance to I have”.

    Second is the internecine union strife that would follow. Anyone who thinks that the other unions would somehow fail to recognize NZ Equity as being part of the problem instead of part of the solution, is probably missing the point of that march on NZ Equity’s meeting. “Why would I want to walk into this mess”?

    The shortness of work compared with the surplus of places where it can be done would finish the job. We’d have to “buy” as in sweetening the pot a lot more, productions to come here and with the labor sector in disarray it would be difficult in any case.

    Finally… I do not think this was “the union’s” doing. I think that given the fact that NZ Equity was not asked, and did not by a vote demand that this action be taken shows exactly that it was MEAA and Whipp that caused this ruction.

    Which leads to the possibility that WB paid Whipp under the table to get him to do it, but aside from that tinfoil-hat theory, it can easily be ascribed to pure stupidity… but not on the part of NZ Equity (except for trusting Whipp in the first place).

    Now of course, the contract-is-a-contract law will make it a bit harder for the unions to get any sort of surety over conditions here. I note that this law does not prohibit an “exception” law to make it possible for the unions to negotiate conditions, but it surely makes things more difficult without that exception. .


  32. We should send the bill to the union.

    It’s very likely that a boycott without even taking a vote to see if members wanted it, is illegal under good faith bargaining.

    Just like Unite Unions threat to bring Auckland to a complete standstill for the rugby world cup sounds more like extortion than good faith bargaining.

  33. National did well out of this. Opportunistic bastards but I have to say they have managed to:
    1. Make this look more dangerous than it probably was.
    2. Use it to make themselves look better than they actually are.
    3. Keep at least one industry alive in NZ.

    I don’t like John Key and his government, but they did OK here. Probably as good a solution as could be had.

    The cost is something bearable – mostly taxes foregone which would have been lost in any case if the production had left for other shores.

    The fact that none of these results would have been necessary without an asshole Australian unionist sticking his appendage in and stirring… without even taking a god-damned vote here, without even following the rules of his own guild…. that seems to be the one thing that some here don’t care to consider.

    I am happy enough with this result. Not happy that it will help Key get re-elected, but happy that it is on balance, a good deal for New Zealand. Not as good as the one we had before the MEAA, but still good.

    I am trying to imagine Phil, Todd and Jeremy Elwood actually stopping and thinking rather than rabiding on.

    Just what the HELL are you people doing? Imitating the idiots on Kiwiblog? I don’t see rational thought processes.

    The Union fucked up. It happens. When it is an Australian union trying to represent Kiwis and not even doing the courtesy of asking us what we think before calling the strike, it is a hell of a lot more likely. Close to inevitable actually.

    THINK! What would you like to have had happen?

    The government stands firm and lets Warner walk away? Could Warner walk away? No? They’re the ones with the options, with people willing to throw even more money in their direction to get this production.

    The government stands firm and Warner says no good and doesn’t make the movie at all?

    Those are the only alternatives to what actually did happen.

    The fact that MEAA and Whipp screwed up doesn’t make all Unions evil, or the power they have wrong. NZ actors would do better to organize themselves as a separate branch of SAG than to let MEAA in here, but they have the right to decide that for themselves.

    The problem however, is that MEAA and Whipp DID screw up, and they managed to damage the union movement as a whole in the process. Damned few people are going to differentiate between them specifically and the unions in general. That hurts.

    ..but this whinging is silly. Tell me how you’d have done better.

    I REALLY want you to come up with something better now… because none of you are making sense at all, whinging about something that was inevitable from the moment the union called the boycott.


  34. So, it seems that “they [the actors supposed representatives] were just trying to get a film company to talk about standardising conditions for actors.” has cost us $25m. Thats a mighty expensive chat.

    But it looks like one that wont happen again, as the Bryson judgement (which didn’t even affect actors) reversal will rattle through the film industry, as it looks like the Gummint will ensure that for the film industry, the employment arrangement will be what its written as. I bet there are a lot of groups of workers outside of film who would love to have that same advantage, certainly in IT, contractors would like to have a legislative shield against the IRD reclassifying a contract of service as disguised employment.

    On the other hand, and being quite upbeat, we do get some good stuff out of this deal, stuff that costs Warners pretty much $0, but which on the open market would cost NZ shedloads; far more than the $25m or whatever we lose.

    So overall, a good result, but for all the wrong reasons. Thousands of jobs and companies in the film production industry can breathe easy again, the status quo is restored, the madness has ended.

    The scary thing is Key is looking like the second coming of Teflon Tony, and those of you with long memories will recall that the non-stick coating and always coming up smelling of roses lead to three terms of Labour rule in the UK. The first term was OK, but after that, it just went, well, …

  35. Shunda – I doubt very much that they did (put ou entire film industry at risk).
    Well I think it would be fair to say it would be significantly damaged, the Hobbit will serve to consolidate the foundation laid with the Lord of the rings etc, and perhaps (depending on the success of the 2 films) take it a long way further.

    I think Warners, as you say, ‘identified the remarkable oppportunity that fell into their hands’all aided of course, by Key who identified the remarkable opportunity to attack ‘Unions’.
    Well if that is true it is not good at all, but I don’t think it is, I think Key was simply thinking of a developing industry and it’s potential benefit to the country.
    Key would have got more political capital if the Hobbit was moved off shore. He would have consolidated swing voters by telling corporate America to get stuffed and been able to blame unions for the loss of the films which most Kiwis would probably agree with.
    He seems to have made a business decision not a political one.
    You seem to be saying, Oh well, good for them, that’s business! Well, I don’t applaud that behaviour at all. That’s the ’sociopathetic behaviour’ I mentioned elsewhere.
    Nope, I’m not, I don’t like modern business ethics one bit, but I don’t like unions using the same ethics either.

  36. $30 million is a drop in the bucket to save a billion dollar indsutry the unions nearly wrecked.

    Will taxpayers get a thankyou from them for fixing their total screw-up?

  37. Shunda – I doubt very much that they did (put ou entire film industry at risk). I think Warners, as you say, ‘identified the remarkable oppportunity that fell into their hands’all aided of course, by Key who identified the remarkable opportunity to attack ‘Unions’. You seem to be saying, Oh well, good for them, that’s business! Well, I don’t applaud that behaviour at all. That’s the ‘sociopathetic behaviour’ I mentioned elsewhere.
    Gotta go to bed however, so that was my parting shot 🙂

  38. I guess when a damned Union puts our entire film industry at risk because of their bolchy “corporate america” style attack, 25 million is a small price to pay to retain it.
    Did you think Warners wouldn’t identify the remarkable opportunity that fell into their hands?
    That’s the problem with fighting fire with fire, you tend to get burnt if you loose.

  39. The Government saved the day… with Peter riding in on their multinational charger named Warner and deftly striking a blow at Unions and workers rights then swiftly speeding off into the horizon with bags of looted taxpayers money. I think we should all be cringing.

  40. ‘Clarification’ Shunda?
    Oh, that’s alright then. A minor tweak. What’s all the fuss about?
    Why then, did Warners need the extra $25 million?
    Was Key just ‘clarifying’ our contribution.

  41. It’s really hard to take the fact that the unions had a disaster.

    robert, phil, todd – I can feel your pain.

    It must be like salt in the wounds that the govt saved the day from their stuff-up.

    Not only that but scored a brilliant world-wide marketing coup.

    Something so good for the country must really hurt you.

  42. Not “changes” but clarification, which is quite different.
    There is evidence in the link to Kiwiblog that I posted above that should make anyone concerned about the principles of workers rights cringe.

  43. Shunda – are you saying that the payment of $25 000 000 extra NZ taxpayer’s money to Warners and the changes that are to be imposed on our employment law are the fault of the unions involved in the earlier ‘dispute’?

  44. What a load of crap Todd.
    Union takes on Warners because they wanted to have a crack at an organisation that has a different ideological position, union spectacularly fails.
    Doesn’t make Warners right, but it certainly makes the union wrong.

  45. Photonz1

    phil – head in the sand again – thinks the marketing input is a bad idea. You’re right Owen – this verges on brilliant.

    Brilliant! Yes it is another brilliant rip off. Here we are paying for the marketing of a commercial enterprise just because it makes NZ look good. That’s the whole point in them being here in the first place, because NZ looks good. We already have a large budget for marketing NZ, why should we need to pay Warners to further show the world our scenery when they are the ones making money from it?

    Put aside the brain drivel and feel good factor and wake up you dumb arses! Just like taxpayers paying for oil exploration in NZ at the moment, commercial enterprise making maximum profits at our expense is madness! It’s also fiscally irresponsible.

    Phil U is right! Lube up movie industry workers, you’re about to get royally screwed by Warners, Peter and the Government. But that’s OK because at least the Hobbit is being made here.

  46. phil – head in the sand again – thinks the marketing input is a bad idea.

    You’re right Owen – this verges on brilliant.

    New Zealand will be marketed in high definition adverts, included in every Hobbit DVD.

    You could pay $100 million and get nothing like that exposure.

  47. phil – you don’t even know if 90% of the actors didn’t even want the boycott, but you are so completely blinded by your ideology that you’ll back the idiot union anyway.

    Then you take the union stuff-up, try to blame Warners.

    Then the govt manages to keep them here, and you blame the govt.

    Seems like you want to blame the whole world except the people who totally screwed up.

  48. error..error..

    silly me…the figure is u.s.$25 million..

    …not u.s.$15 million…

    ..there is also the u.s.$10 million we are giving them…

    ..to help them ‘promote’ the film…

    (i mean..this same ploy worked a treat with lotr…

    …you can’t really blame them for trying it on again..

    …and again..?




  49. so…they screwed another u.s.$15 mill. out of us..eh..?

    i wonder what jacksons’ cut is..?

    ..(good pay for some over-acting/histrionics…eh..?..)

    david lange stood up to american bullying…

    ..john key ponyed-up…

    ..plus special anti-worker legislation for them…eh..?

    ..’craven moments in nz history’..?…anyone…?


  50. A brilliant outcome. Unlike many of you, I spent many years negotiating deals between New Zealanders and large multinational organisations – of both the Socratic and Confucian tradition.
    The end result of this exercise is what we always hope for – a win-win situation.
    Prior to the rash actions of the Australians Warners etc would have been worrying about the falling US dollar.
    When they first negotiated the commitment, the NZ dollar was about 65 cents and now the US dollar has fallen so that the NZ KIwi is about 75 cents. That makes other destinations look much more attractive – in pure dollar terms, and those governments would have been nipping at the Warner ankles.
    Then the Equity actors threw the nuclear bomb of a global boycott.
    Big multi-nationals do not like to be deal breakers – especially against weak partners. But now they had their excuse.
    But we have come out roses. The Hobbit movies will be made here.
    The labour law for movies only will be clarified.
    Yes we will pay 7 million more per movie PROVIDED THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL.
    But in return Warners are committed to a joint venture promotional campaign for NZ which will be worth FAR MORE than 7 million.
    AND one of the world premiers will be in NZ. Eat your heart out Ireland and Eastern Europe.
    I just hope Actors Equity greet this with grace. I have been in these kinds of situations many times myself and I have to say I never pulled off anything like this coup.
    Well done to all involved in rescuing this project.
    Just hope that some people have learned a lesson. I also hope that the lesson is NOT that you can stuff things up and depend on other people to rescue the situation.

  51. Yay! Looks like Shonkey Honkey has saved the day. What a hero… Not! The point that Warner was happy with the existing agreement is valid. What on Earth is the Government negotiating to give taxpayer money away after the fact? Lets make the taxpayer foot the bill for commercial enterprise. What crap negotiating, now that there has been weakness the vultures are swarming in. It certainly looks like a set up from the beginning and the whole scenario falls squarely into the reduce workers rights agenda of the National Government. What a crock!

  52. photonz is a human tape-loop…on repeat…

    we are in the actual process of being screwed for millions more…

    ..by jackson/warners…

    ..and they are about to come…

    ..are we all enjoying the exercise….?

    ..i do hope they are all wearing condoms…


  53. So we have a total cock-up by the union – the whole country can see it.

    But the idealogues here can’t think for themselves and immediately jump on the bandwagon of back the union, trash the govt / company / rich.

    They’re even happy to trash the majority of workers on the film who want nothing to do with teh mess the union made

    The only thing that fits with that arguement is a huge conspiracy, so suddenly they all become conspiracy theorists, because that’s the only way they can get (the now very skewed version of)things to fit with their ideology.

    It’s symptomatic of what’s wrong with extremists of all flavours.

  54. “walked into a trap” – what a laugh.

    The studio was ok with the tax rebates, spent millions on sets, offered actors the BEST deal they’d ever had – but….oh…no ….that was all a trap to try to make them take the nuclear option of a world-wide boycott.

    One word to decribe that – delusional.

  55. Kerry

    Phil Goff may be “doing the right thing” but he’s dead wrong if he doesn’t recognize that the Union’s boycott had little in common with “walking into a trap” and a lot more to do with a damnfool Australian overreaching in a way no New Zealander would have. Peter Jackson had the agreement, had the film, had the work lined up for all of us and the Studio was happy with the deal as it was… or it would not have been going ahead.

    How this boycott, called by an Australian and almost certainly not voted on by any New Zealanders, could be called a trap by the Studio is quite beyond any stretch of the terminology.

    Once it was done, it IS all about the money, but it isn’t really, because the money is all there is that we can put on the table. If Whipp and MEAA could be removed from the equation I’d wager that money issues would be a lot less prominent. Right now it is IMO, a matter of compensating for the fact that Whipp has not been removed.

    But at this point the Studio wants mo’money and has an excellent excuse if it changes its mind about making the film here. Whipp absolutely and completely screwed New Zealand AND its Unions.

    …and none of the New Zealanders I have seen, including Helen Kelly, seems to be the sort to have done this to themselves.


  56. Apologies to Labour for the above. PG is taking the principled position.

    “Labour leader Mr Goff said the dispute was all about money and that the unions had walked into a trap.

    He challenged the Government’s position that the actors unions’ aborted boycott of the films and the law around independent contractors and employees was the root of the studio’s concerns and said people should “follow the money”.

    “Let’s be honest about this; we know it’s not about the industrial law, it’s about dollars,” Mr Goff said..

    “It’s about the exchange rate being at 75 cents American. That costs the film company money and it’s about the profit they can make and whether there will be a bigger subsidy from another country than the $60 million New Zealand has offered.”

    The unions had not handled it well and had walked straight into a trap. Their threatened action had been withdrawn and was no longer the issue.

    “They set out to make a negotiating bid and then they were used as a reason for why The Hobbit might be lost to New Zealand. I think the real reason is purely economic; it’s the bottom line for the company.”

    It would be a big mistake for Warners to choose another location because New Zealand had the expertise, experience and proven power to deliver, Mr Goff said.”

  57. “At least I make up my mind on individual issues, and take a stance on them depending on their merit (including openly supporting many Green issues), instead of blindly following a mantra.”

    Photonz1-Sorry, but I laughed out loud when reading your comment. If anyone here blindly follows a mantra it would be you. Your endless quotes from obvious government spin is legendary here.

  58. Kerry – pot kettle decribes you own blinkered backing of the union of their complete cock-up.

    At least I make up my mind on individual issues, and take a stance on them depending on their merit (including openly supporting many Green issues), instead of blindly following a mantra.

  59. The Parnell story today.

    Mr Parnell. “I am going to refuse to work more than an eight hour day and the other tradesmen and labourers are going to support me with a similar refusal. Anyone who breaks ranks will be ducked in the harbour”.

    Employer. “If you do that I will get a fit of the pip and use it to threaten to take my ball away, as an excuse to get a bigger subsidy/Labour laws changed so you have to negotiate singly/longer working day legislated”.

    Paul Holmes et al. “The sky is falling”.

    Labour and the Greens. “We believe in freedom of association and the right to withdraw your labour for better wages and working conditions, but do not ever do it because the media will run around like headless chooks, and the public will blame us”.

    Legal expert. “Independent contractors’ cannot band together talk to each other about prices or working conditions. It is illegal”.

    Labourer. “How come contracting workers in other countries are allowed to negotiate collectively, while we cannot”.

    CTU. “We tried to get both parties to come to an amicable solution (which is our job) but after a deal was made the other party publically stabbed us in the back”.

    JK. “Thanks for the union bashing opportunity. Now we will reward employers, with some more anti worker legislation and with some more taxpayer dollars, for helping with our election campaign”.

    Onlooker. “Why is everyone so up in arms about a, possibly, 200 mil benefit to NZ going after they happily waved goodby to billions in employment and manufacturing over the last 30 years”.

    Where was the public outrage, to keep Skellerup, Firestone, Fisher and Paykel, boat building, coastal shipping, rail way and marine engineering, shoe making and all the other industries, as successive Governments did their best to remove employment and productive business from NZ.

  60. The Bank Guarantee scheme is regularly lambasted here.

    So who supported it being put in place?

    “The Green Party is committed to the deposit guarantee scheme providing stability to the finance sector.”

    A quote from Russel Norman on the Green party website

  61. http://whoar.co.nz/2010/brian-rudman-hobbit-folk-grovel-to-feudal-movie-lordsup-and-down-the-land-crowds-marched-and-rallied-to-pledge-to-be-servile-to-a-hollywood-movie-conglomerate/

    “…Not so long ago, the rest of the country guffawed at Wellington planning to rename itself Wellywood.

    Now the whole country seems to have taken leave of its senses, demanding we rename New Zealand “Hobbiton” and elevate the Gnome of the Wairarapa, Sir Peter Jackson, to be our Lord and Master.

    Have we no sense of shame, or of the ridiculous?

    On Monday, Samuel Parnell, the father of the eight-hour day, would have turned in his grave at the way the day set aside in his memory was desecrated.

    Up and down the land, crowds marched and rallied to pledge to be servile to a Hollywood movie conglomerate.

    Down with the evil actors for asking for another plate of soup, they chanted.

    Off with the heads of the dastardly Aussie manipulators.

    The union leaders were simple womenfolk who should be back in the kitchen where they belong.

    Parnell, a London carpenter, arrived in Wellington in 1840, in the same week the Treaty of Waitangi was being signed.

    A fellow passenger on the ship out, George Hunter, asked him to build him a store.

    Parnell told him there were 24 hours in the day – eight for work, eight for sleep and eight for recreation.

    Those were his conditions.

    So, the eight-hour working day dream was born.

    On October 28, 1890, to mark the 50th anniversary of European settlement and the first birthday of the Maritime Council, the workers organisation, Labour Day was marked officially with marches in the main centres.

    It was to celebrate the eight-hour working day and publicise workers’ rights.

    Ten years later it became a statutory holiday with huge parades, picnics and sports days.

    Sadly, the marchers on Monday know more about the fantasy lives of elves and goblins, and of the fabulous wealth of Sir Peter, than they do of the history of New Zealand.

    Few would have known how they came to have the public holiday that freed them for the day to indulge in their union-bashing activities.

    So, on the 110th anniversary of a public holiday marking New Zealand’s proud leadership in workers’ rights, news beamed around the world …

    … of a nation rising up to plead with a movie magnate to forgive us for having a few wayward troublemakers in our midst …

    … with the temerity to be acting in the spirit of Parnell.

    There they were, saying, “Tell us how long to grow our elven beards, and how hard to pull our forelocks, Sir, and we will do it.

    Straight after we burn those evil witches, Robyn Malcolm, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Helen Kelly, in the public square …

    … for disturbing the tranquillity of our feudal land.

    Workers’ rights have taken a battering over the past 30 years from successive governments …

    … but every employee in the land should be concerned at the hammering the actors have got for daring to ask for meaningful negotiations.

    We might have thought the television current affairs gurus would have brought a certain gravitas to the issues.

    But Paul Holmes on state television’s so-called flagship current affairs show, Q and A, and John Campbell on TV3 a day or two before …

    … appeared to have been issued super-strength hysteria pills before going on air.

    Campbell beamed in live from a Hobbit doll’s house he had to crouch to fit inside ..

    … gasping at every tearful word spluttered by the incandescent Lord of Hobbit, Sir Peter.

    Holmes, sweat pouring down his face, making exasperated stage sighs to Camera 3 …

    … was so beside himself that the guilty womenfolk in the dock hardly had a chance to stammer out an uninterrupted word …

    … before he donned the black cap and dispatched them back to the kitchen. “..” (cont..)


  62. http://whoar.co.nz/2010/the-hobbit-as-told-by-john-key/

    “…It is understood the New Zealand government is proposing a complete rewrite of the Hobbit movie in an attempt to break the impasse with Warner Brothers.

    In top level talks with up to 10 Warner executives held last night it is believed Prime Minister John Key pitched a new scenario for the troubled film that would shift the action from mythical Middle Earth to present day New Zealand, lowering production costs at least 10-fold.

    According to sources, the reworked film script – tipped to be called The Hubbard Movie – would, however, closely follow the original Hobbit storyline.

    “Basically, it’s the same plot as the Hobbit,” the source said.

    “The South Canterbury Finance story is just as convoluted, adolescent and incomprehensible as anything written by JRR Tolkein.”


    “Key may also sweeten the deal for Warner Brothers by issuing a government guarantee …

    … as well as compelling all adult (over 12 years) New Zealanders to attend the movie…” (cont..)


  63. dbuckley – that’s the problem with many here. They support issues not on whether they are a good idea or not – not even on whether they are right or wrong – but solely because it fits with an ideology.

    It doesn’t matter if a union has made a big stuff up, hasn’t even bothered to find out if it’s members even wanted a world-wide boycott, if it’s move might destroy thousands of jobs – they unfailingly support it simply because it’s a union.

    That’s incredibly blinkered – and it’s why many of those on the margins on both sides come across as extremist.

    They’d be taken a lot more seriously (including some MPs) if they focused more on what’s good for NZ, more on results, and less on ideology over-riding everything else.

  64. I’m not at all undecided, I’m unconventional. The centre, the left, and the right all have policies I like (they are “good” policies), and all have policies I don’t (“bad” policies).

    Here’s another of my things: I’m not a “green” (or a Green Party member), but I’m pro and for the environment. The Greens consistently annoy me perhaps more than any other party, though we share many of the same goals and aspirations.

    Last election I voted for the party that offended me the least, which turned out to be the Bill and Ben party. Several years of Labour, and a few of the National coalition have convinced me I at least did not vote for the wrong party.

    I just wish the boys had got a seat, or preferably two.

    And kiwiblog – just say no – that place is mostly populated by ranting crazy people. Though strangely, Farrar himself comes across as almost normal on telly interviews, unlike his blog personna.

  65. shall we call you ‘undecided as yet’..?

    (hint:..u r leaning right…eh..?..)

    have you thought of testing the waters at that great big pool of rightwing love…kiwiblog..?

    ..u may find a home (of sorts)…


  66. It is a surprise, Phil, ‘cos I’m not a right winger, or a troll, and not usually in agreement with photonz1.

    (I’m not a left winger either, funnily enough, I don’t fit on that scale at all, probably because its a bullshit scale.)

    But if you look at an issue without the benefits of ideologically-tinted lenses (of any colour) then it’s usually fairly easy to tell good from less good.

  67. gee..!..buckley..that comes as a real shock to the rest of us..


    ..that you are in full agreement with another rightwing-troll…?

    ..quelle surprise..!


  68. Strangely, I find myself absolutely in agreement with photonz1 last two posts: what a clear dose of reality.

  69. bj – I think there’s a huge tendancy for many here including the MPs to automatically jump onto any bandwagon that aligns with their ideology.

    Last week we have Sue having a go at Ryman Healthcare for making $34 million dollars and paying low wages. As a billion dollar company, a profit of 3% is pretty low, and if they any lower than they they may as well put the money into govt bonds, close down – and sell off the rest homes to someone who can run them with LESS costs, if anyone wanted to run them at all.

    If the Green party wants to be more relavant to more people it needs to be a bit more in touch with the real world, and be more results-focused rather than ideology-focused.

  70. Photonz

    The party didn’t automatically back anyone this time. I certainly do allow as there are some here who have that tendency but if you read Keith’s statement carefully you can see that he’s talking about general labor relations, not about this specific union.


  71. “SPADA have been refusing to talk for several years.”

    “Jackson’s latest statement says Spada (the Screen Production and Development Association) has been trying to meet both the New Zealand and Australian actors’ unions (NZ Equity and MEAA) for 18 months only to be rebuffed”

    Looking at this AND at Whipp’s statements to “The Hollywood Reporter” and here on that link we saw earlier, there is no indication whatsoever that he was planning to or trying to talk with SPADA… at least not until Helen Kelly and the CTU got involved.

    Of course, Jackson COULD be telling a porky. I just don’t think so. Not after seeing Whipp’s little performance and reading his actual interview statements.

    It is even possible that Helen Kelly SENT him home. Possibly with threats to remove some of his favorite body parts. We may never know the back-story to that.

    I actually think rather well of the CTU at this point as its involvement appears to have coincided with an outbreak of sanity all around. It took some doing to get that result, but from the outside it also looks like it was them as did it.


  72. sprout says “I’m intrigued, how could our Party manage this situation differently? ”

    How this was handled was sympotmatic of a problem with the Greens (and many others – i.e. Act, and sometimes the larger parties too).

    Instead of automatically backing the ideology that aligns with your own, (regardless of who is wrong and who is right), you’d be far better backing the outcome you want.

    And surely lots of work for NZ actora, technicians, etc at the best deal they’ve ever had (i.e. what they were offered) is a much better outcome than actors and technicians sitting at home on the dole satisfied with the knowledge that the work they never got would have been at very high rates if they hadn’t killed off the whole industry (as well as a potential decade-long tourism boom).

    This is a fine example of ideology shooting itself in the foot.

  73. watch key give more millions to the studio standover-merchants/jackson..

    and then watch him turn and spin that…

    …watch him blame the actors/union…for forcing him to do that…

    (btw…this same mini-movie went on over lotr…

    ..it worked for them then too…eh..?..)


  74. yet after watching kiwi’s trying to advocate for themselves – I’d reckon the show is moving….
    just a little bit too hostile and fuglee

  75. Films blacklisted globally in the past 5 years (as far as I know)

    1. The Hobbit.

    That singular statistic hasn’t got a lot to do with actors giving up their rights.

    Negotiations with individual productions cited in SAG press releases or on the web…

    0. None.

    SAG commonly negotiates with the producer’s organizations, not individual productions. The demand to meet with Peter Jackson was strictly an MEAA notion. SPADA was the appropriate organization to talk with but that apparently was not good enough for MEAA.


  76. Phil – you ask lots of questions, but ignore the only question that matters; are you willing to risk it all? I (and judging by the polls on the subject) am not.

    And please do remember – it’s only the Actors causing this ruck; their actions threaten the film production industry which employs thousands of people and who are generally happy with their lot, and they are the people who are getting quite vocal as they see the actors treatening their industry.

  77. When it comes to industrial relations the main difficulty is balance, balance of power between employer and employee, balance in media reporting and balance in Government action. It is interesting that in history active “dangerous” unionists like Peter Fraser later became Prime Minister and more recently Ken Douglas a respected associate of business leaders. The demonization of union leaders and the behaviour of cooks and stewards leaves a lasting memory while the use of armed constabulary, lockouts, mass sackings and heavy handed employment law hardly rates a mention.

    The $500,000+ salaries and 6% increases for struggling public service bosses are brushed over while actors earning an average of $28,000 are being expected to sacrifice their employment rights for the good of the country.

  78. Gerrit. Getting much less cloth cap and co-operative has not benefited the seagoing Unions. Taking wage cuts and drastic manning cuts has not resulted in extra jobs. The much more militant, and in your view cloth cap, watersiders branch of MUNZ have largely kept their pay and conditions.

    We all of us including employers owe our working conditions to the Unions.
    Business customers accept that you are on the job in the normal 40 hour week. They have to pay extra for weekend callouts to mention just one thing.
    Leaving the weekends for quoting and paperwork!! 🙂

  79. I wondered how long it would be before someone bought up the Cooks and Stewards. They used to drive me nutty to. I had to work with the buggers.

    I can understand their attitude though. Most of them at that time had worked through the war. They were treated like s–t with wages frozen while the shipping companies made fortunes. I knew several who had been forced back to sea immediately after having two or more ships sunk under them. There was a large element of “getting our own back”.

    They abused their power while they had it. But no more than the ferry owners (Private then Government) abused their monopoly position to make megabucks. They cost a lot less than monopoly and cartel businesses are costing us now. Not to mention the great asset giveaway in the 80’s.

    Management always maneuvered the bargaining so strikes happened at Christmas. That was part of the game and if I had been a manager at the time I would have done it to. There is no good time to strike.

    News papers the were no better than now. I am still wondering how our work to rule in an unrelated company to prevent them taking 60 million from our super scheme became. “Rail ferries threatened with strike again”. The law would have made us let the company get away with it today, because you are no longer allowed to take any industrial action, except during negotiations for an employment contract.

  80. “..The only unhappy people are the union, maybe they just can’t stand a happy workplace?..”

    u present that as logic/reasoning…

    ..and u call me ‘silly’..eh..?

    ..right ho..!


  81. so buckley…all those other countries actors/crews are unionised….

    ..but we should not aspire to that..?

    …are we not ‘good enough’…?

    ..and should just be content to be forelock-tuggers…

    ..anyway..this isn’t all about the hobbit..

    ..it’s as much about getting producers like barnett to pony-up..

    ..(maybe even feed his extras..?..)

    ..and barnett is anti-union..?

    ..well that’s a surprise…eh..?


  82. Collective bargaining for an industry wide agreement has been illegal in NZ since the employment Contracts act. The “free marketeers” de-regulated business at the same time as they regulated more to prevent workers using their market power.
    Ordinary employees share of GDP has dropped markedly since then while that of the financial sector and overseas company owners has increased.

    This was supposed to result in increased investment in productive business’. As I have said elsewhere the business owners did not reinvest. Investment in NZ dropped to 1/3 of what it was previously.

    Regulating workers rights, deregulating the market and the whole neo-lib experiment has been an abject failure in the USA, UK and here. All three countries are worse off than those who did not go as far down the same road.

  83. Phil – yep, you seem to have got it. Assuming you want “our” $2.6bn “crumbs from the table” film industry to continue to exist.

    It really is very, very simple.

    Note I’m not arguing this is right or good, just that this is the way it is, and that it will remain; this is one David and Goliath battle to which there is no upside to winning.

  84. Fill-ewe, how silly.
    No-one I’ve heard of say that the conditions offered were any form of rip-off. To the contrary, they appear to be easily the best terms offered since… oh…. the last Jackson movie.
    The only unhappy people are the union, maybe they just can’t stand a happy workplace?

  85. Sprout

    whose tune are we all dancing to

    Seriously, have you not read this thread?

    I’ll copy it so you don’t have to hunt for it.

    the only place in the world where films have a right to be made in in the Studio Zone in Hollywood. Any other location anywhere in the world (including the rest of the USA) that gets to make movies (other than the occasional local minor interest film) does so because the fat cats in Hollywood bestow it.

    Does that answer your question? We dance to the fat cats in Hollywood’s tune. How much clearer can it be made???

    We can either have an Kiwi only industry, employing very few people and turning over not much money, or we can take the crumbs from the table, have a $2.6bn industry that employs lots of people (albeit not many actors) and generates 10% of New Zealand’s export revenue, and a high quality revenue generator at that.

    There’s no third way – its easy for the fat cats to move their production elsewhere, plenty of countries want the Amercian Dollar from the Hollywood fat cats…

  86. Sprout

    I am concerned that if we are not careful we will be tarred with the same brush…. and Keith is being pretty careful. He really has to be. I don’t actually disagree with much of what he says up at the top. He’s spinning but not very much… and the observations about the general labor situation not being affected by this are really quite well taken.

    I am trying to find a record of the NZ actors actually voting for the stop-work move. I don’t see it. Usually that is required to call SAG.

    After all, the decision by the union couldn’t be treason, if the one person who made it isn’t even a New Zealander.



  87. SPC

    Yes, there is some honest reporting of what he says…

    Given that the ability to detect bullsh!t isn’t that common, let’s put it in context here….

    1. He doesn’t say that he didn’t call the blacklisting.

    2. He doesn’t apologize for it.

    3. He cites the “average actors wage” of 28500 per year. The question of how this is determined in a country where most actors aren’t full-time in that profession, is an interesting one. Who are the actors, what are the hours they are working? He can basically, choose any number and justify it. However, he VERY misleadingly compares that number with the hourly rate of someone on a day of full employment with overtime applied. The average WEEKLY rate for SAG in the US is less than $1000 US. I don’t need to call a man who pulls such sh!t any names. All I have to do is point out the sh!t.


    However, there is no indication that Peter Jackson is or was underpaying anyone on this film, nor any claim of such.

    4. “He cited a theatre company contract stating that an actor unable to work would be financially liable for their replacement ” – not that it was in any contract that had anything to do with “The Hobbit”, nor is there any indication that such practices are current.

    5. “Whipp said the campaign The Hobbit had been caught up in was part of a bigger effort to give those actors the same rights as those in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.”

    So it had nothing to do with “The Hobbit”, it was an effort to unionize the NZ film industry as a whole.

    How many individual film productions have been globally blacklisted by SAG in the past few years? I have just spent some time googling and found a total of one. This one. Nobody else even came close.

    SAG usually negotiates with producers groups like SPADA, not with individual productions.

    So not having singled out this production means basically what? Really? That he tried to talk to some other producers and they also told him to talk to SPADA?

    Whipp is spinning nicely here, and he’s almost good enough to fool someone who really really wants to wear those blinkers.

    The “what more can we do” question of course is easily answered. He can apologize and resign… or NZ equity can reorganize as an independent branch of SAG that has nothing to do with his mob. Given the relative strengths of our respective industries and the talent base here, that’d be justified on several grounds, not just this abject failure of an Australian to properly represent Kiwi interests. I think I trust our actors to be able to manage these things better than this, and to wield the power of their global association more responsibly.

    Certainly it would be hard for anything LESS responsible to be imagined.

    The guarantee he offers is like a sticking plaster on an ax wound. A global blacklist, unique AFAIK in the past 2 years of all films anywhere on the planet.

    Warner Brothers cannot but be concerned that someone who would do a thing like that without even an actual grievance against their production has the actual power to do that, and he still does.

    Me… I hope he has the good sense to stay away from NZ.


  88. “I just want our party to have a care about how it plays this SPECIFIC situation. This isn’t a union… it is a political party, and while I have a general brief in favor of unions vs big-biz, I have a specific concern about what appears to have happened here.”

    Bj-I’m intrigued, how could our Party manage this situation differently? Keith has been very careful that he sticks to the facts and made sure that a measured response comes from the Greens. Do you think we should have stood to one side as this mad media feeding frenzy took place? Do you think that by supporting the CTU actions we will end up as “damaged goods” like Robyn Malcom?

  89. Phil

    All I have to say about the treaty is that it is ambiguous and needs to be integrated into a proper constitution by a proper constitutional convention.

    Nor have I had any particular opinion about what WE say about the treaty, though it is a distraction, because it is part of being part of New Zealand and thus a necessary topic for a political party in NZ. My chief objection to the thing is that its ambiguity causes a lot of wasted time and attention.


  90. no..your desire that all that waitangi treaty business be one of those subjects..like pot/animal welfare…poverty..social issues…

    ..that are best left unspoken..

    (‘distracts from the green message’…eh..?…)


  91. (update on the 5.12 pm..)

    barry soper on prime has broken from the media lynch-mob…

    ..and has highlighted that fact/ommission i cited at 5.12……

    ..and has asked..’why?’…

    and robert…the right are suddenly running scared…

    ..a labour party no longer trying to ape them..

    …scares them shitless..

    ..(and robert..haven’t you noticed farrar hyperventilating all over the place..?..

    ..he needs smelling salts..)

    ..and i loved hones’ response to the question of who he would like to coalition with..

    ..his answer was that the greens would always be his first choice to coalaesce with…

    ..(bj..with his maori/coloured-folks-fears…

    …might like to meditate on that..)

    (and i think they ‘blood’ holmes pre-show…

    ..they give him ‘poverty-smell’-scents…it inflames him..

    ..and kicks his contempt-gene into high gear..)


  92. “I was just reminding younger people here that a whole generation or more grew up enduring fury at the regular way the Cooks and Stewards would go on strike just before Xmas and put everyone’s holidays at risk.”

    I also recall the union pointing out that it was the employer who always tried to alter wages and conditio0ns in the run up to Christmas, knowing that the media would scream and whine about unions ruining the country. Some things don’t change.

    Which is not to say that the unions were faultless – ferry workers were doing pretty well as I recall, largely due to a strong union. The trouble is, incidents like this are inevitable in an adversarial system.

    You want a free market, then workers and employers interests are going to be at odds. Workers want more pay and better conditions, employers want to pay less and save money. Workers only real power is to take industrial action, and of course this means the public loses services. And since unions are prevented by law from engaging in solidarity actions, there is little they can do if an employer threatens to shift production overseas.

    So what’s the solution? Dismantle capitalism? More government regulation? Any other suggestions?

  93. Sprout

    As I pointed out, the globalization of business, but not unions, has resulted in a very nasty power shift away from workers and unions and in favor of businesses.

    The fact that this is NOT true in the case of the actors guild (SAG is a global organization), means that the film industry as a whole is in better shape than most others. That’s a generalization about the whole industry worldwide… and I don’t doubt there are exceptions to it.

    However, the generalization that workers have much less power right now than they have had in perhaps the last century is pretty much true. Most workers do not have a global organization like SAG behind them. So one country’s wage slaves are played off against another’s and the tugging of forelock requirement.

    I just want our party to have a care about how it plays this SPECIFIC situation. This isn’t a union… it is a political party, and while I have a general brief in favor of unions vs big-biz, I have a specific concern about what appears to have happened here.


  94. how is it that ‘the media’ seem unable to see/recognise/comment on one piece of proven bullshit….?

    namely..that documentation(emails etc.) have been produced showing the prpblem was solved…three days before the techies night of rage in wellington…

    ..and that those who spoke to/wound up that crowd…chose to ignore that solved-fact…

    …and to just essentialy lie…and thus whip up the crowd..

    what about this do they not fucken see/understand…?

    ..and is/was that ok..?..was it..?

    ..no need for any comment on that…?

    …are they all hoping for ‘parts’…

    (..i wonder if they have headhunted farrar yet..?

    ..he’d be brilliant..!…)


  95. Graham, I did think Helen could’ve come across stronger on Q & A and perhaps there could have been ways that the whole situation could have been managed better by the CTU, but you have to accept that the media has an extremely strong National bias and it is a real battle to have the union voice heard at all.

    When we have so many National ministers struggling to understand their portfolios and constantly demonstrating their ignorance I would have thought the media would revelling in these opportunities, but no. Instead we hear the government spin accepted and repeated and when that is presented on television, radio and in our newspapers the constant repetition begins to appear as fact. The wider public now believe that an Australian union (probably with communist connections) has taken over our New Zealand actors, boycotted the Hobbit movie and has killed the New Zealand film industry. Poor Peter Jackson, who did such wonderful things for New Zealand deserves better from these terrible unionists. Where is the truth and balance in this impression, whose tune are we all dancing to and who will be the losers in the end?

  96. sprout
    If you had been in Helen’s place on Q+A this morning how would you have responded to Paul’s opening question which was: “What we’ve seen after last week with your handling of things is a complete failure for the union movement. That’s so isn’t it?”

  97. Can I take minor issue with you there Sprout

    Overseas, NZ workers working overseas do have a good reputation. I can personally vouch for this, when the City of London was moving itself from the Square Mile to Canary Wharf much of the Canary Wharf end of the IT work was done by legions of Kiwi contractors, and they did a magnificent job, and really put in the work. So a sample size of one in favour.

    However, a friend of mine has reason to visit many places in the world, and hires local crews in many places in the world. His opinion of the New Zealand crews is that they don’t come any slacker. (The Dutch are the best, apparently) So a sample size of one against.

    So whatever it is that makes our people stand-outs overseas, isn’t necessarily reflected here at home.

    As I note, this is a very small sample, and may not be representative of the wider population of trades.

    Certainly in no other country of the world have I noted that courier delivery drivers run everywhere!

  98. Of course there is a place for collective bargaining; it is part of the right to freedom of association.

    And certainly New Zealand workers are known for their adaptability and refusal to get locked into ridiculous boundary issues. When I came back from Berkeley with my new skill as a touch typist on real typewriters no clerical union here tried to stop me from having my own typewriter and typing my own reports – which was not uncommon overseas at that time.
    I was just reminding younger people here that a whole generation or more grew up enduring fury at the regular way the Cooks and Stewards would go on strike just before Xmas and put everyone’s holidays at risk.
    I here many people of my age muttering Cooks and Stewards again whenever the Hobbit issue comes up.

    Similarly in San Fransisco Bay area – the Bart drivers go on strike every year just before Xmas shopping. The City caves and fares go up because the city cannot afford the loss in trade etc.

    A few reckless abuses of power can destroy the reputation of the majority and the tolerance of the multitude.

    The memories linger on.

  99. Owen-for every strident union I could name many more employers who have been opportunist and taken advantage of situations. Employer/employee relationships are all about balance and the current environment has the balance tipped so much in the employers favour that we have created one of the most business friendly countries in the world and are one of the most inequitable. Unions are spoken about with the same sense of horror as reference to terrorists.

    Having travelled widely, and worked overseas myself, I know New Zealand workers have an incredible reputation for hard work, honesty and amazing adaptability. In New Zealand they are being labeled as lazy, untrustworthy and grasping and draconian legislation is necessary to deal to them. Most Unions I know prefer to work things through with employers in a reasonable way using “good faith” bargaining and in my experience it is generally the employers that ignore the good faith bit. An Invercargill union organizer, who generally has a good relationship with most employers he works with has found himself removed from a workplace by the police for attempting to talk to workers during a lunch hour.

    What sort of industrial climate do you envisage? Is there a place for collective bargaining in your world?

  100. The Hollywood studios have little influence over film making in India and Hong Kong.
    We live in the modern world.
    There are niches for everyone if they know where to look. NZ venture capital has never been able to fund a 500 million dollar movie.
    However,for some years I worked for Challenge Ventue Capital (on a contract) and one arm of Challenge was Strada which for many years was the world’s largest financier of musicals. We funded CATS, Phantom of the Opera, TIme, Starllight Express, numerous revivals such as 42nd Street – and I still get royalties from Les Miserables. New Zealand investors were largely responsible for the revival of musicals and because is was our musicals that revitalised Broadway, 42 nd street and Times Square you can say that NZ financed the Revival of downtown Manhattan.
    Sadly the local film industry used our special partnership legislation (same as funds venture capital in Calfiformia) as straight out tax rorts and so the Labour Government cancelled the legislation. And Strada went out of business and so did Challlenge Ventures which was funding hi tech.
    One change to one line would have stopped the rorts but we threw out the baby with the bathwater.
    One of our advantages in dealing with the London theatres and producers was the fax machine which meant we could turn our project documentation round while the London angles all slept in their beds. So dealing with NZ was quicker than dealing with the bank across the street.

  101. Bj- as you said it is all a beat up and no matter whether you agree or disagree with the unfortunate MEAA blacklisting or not, it comes down to the fact that grandstanding behaviour to make a point is only acceptable if employers do it. Workers have to grovel and scrape, tug at their forelocks and approach employers on their knees. Employers always hold the trump card (and that’s an unintentional reference to another crazy story http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/4266244/Trump-threatens-local-business) and whether it be teachers or actors, if you want to improve your agreement using anything other than gentle persuasion is labeled as militant and disruptive.

  102. q&a should be renames ‘h b & h’..

    “hectoring..bullying..and histrionics..”

    ..holmes totally lost it…

    (and that one should go into media-textbooks..

    in the ‘hysterical-hosts’ section..)

    kelly..on the other hand..was as cool as a cucumber…

    ..watching in apparant bemusement…the angished gyrations of the holmes..

    and of course..in the subsection of ‘interesting questions not answered’…

    ..were the ones addressed by kelly to holmes’ bully-wingman..

    ..the local movie producer john barnett…

    (funnily enough…famous/infamous for his workers-pay-rates..

    ..extras on shortland st not only get paid s.f.a…

    ..they have to bring their own drink/food…w.t.f..!..eh..?..)

    ..as in his selective choosing of current ‘guidelines’…in his contracts..)

    ..kelly:..’i’ve seen your contracts john..’

    ..and then listing how worker-conditions are omitted..


    ‘how much do you pay your workers..?..john..?..’

    (and interesting that a man of some intelligence/perception in some other matters…

    ..is so still totally swallowing the company/spin-line…eh bj..?..)


  103. Sprout, Kerry

    Think about this a little more.

    The original blacklisting took it out of the hands of the actors. Once they’d called the blacklist the response of the Studio is up to the Studio, not the actors.

    The point the Studio is going to pay attention to is that having taken what appears almost everyone to be irrational (and uncalled for by the local union members?) industrial action once, the same players… in particular Whipp and the Australians, could do it again.

    No denying that WB and the Gummint can game this all further, and likely will do so. Nobody here is painting either as “the good guys”. They’ll take any advantage they can get. However, that doesn’t absolve Whipp et.al. of using the biggest club in the bag, escalating the situation to the point where serious gaming of the system CAN be done by WB and this government. Which leads to the problems that Helen Kelly et.al. are having.

    My personal opinion, particular given what I saw in that little street video that featured him, is that the man has an appreciation of the scale of the mistake he made, can’t apologize (he’d almost have to resign) and can’t explain (because if there WERE any good explanation we’d have seen it weeks ago).

    You betcha there is a huge beat-up.

    Proper thing for the NZ actors to have done when MEAA called the blacklist was to dissociate from the MEAA and ask SAG for formation of their own branch… and then arranged their own deals in association with the CTU. (Which scares me a bit, because it is similar to what Brownlee said). Should have done it THEN though, not now.

    Except that violates the “solidarity” rule and would make SAG look bad if it had already moved on the MEAA request for the global blacklist and the MEAA request were public knowledge.

    Lost still in this kerfuffle is that there was no substantive demand for different pay or conditions to what was on offer. I see posts from both sides discussing the rotten pay or excessive demands, and yet there really was nothing of the sort reported on either side.

    This had to be something else and there are very few candidates apart from a power grab by a professional Australian unionist.
    Alternative theories always welcome.


  104. Good lord, hysteria, hysteria, hysteria! New Zealand is hardly getting balanced reporting when Helen Kelly is invited to provide the Union perspective and then shouted down by the Q & A’s Paul Holmes every time she attempts to give an answer.

    As Kerry has quoted above a resolution was achieved but it is not in the interests of Warner Bros or the Government to have a resolution. This is a wonderful opportunity to really hit the union movement, to maintain the perception we will lose our film industry because of militant actors, supported by the CTU is a dream come true. This is a crisis like the Christchurch earthquake where we need Gerry Brownlee to enter from stage right on his black charger to gallop across any annoying legislation to save the day!

    Robyn Malcom, Ian Mune and Helen Kelly have really tried to bring commonsense and a calming approach to this issue but to no avail, apparently Robyn is now “damaged goods” for being involved. What a huge beat up!

  105. Quoting Helen Kelly. CTU.

    “I first got involved in this dispute on 28 September when Peter Jackson released a four page statement putting the dispute between Warners and Equity in the media, and I immediately contacted Wingnut to propose we meet to try and find a solution.

    I met with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens on 1 October and following the meeting we agreed to release advice saying we had met and “… we are hopeful that a meaningful dialogue between Equity, SPADA and Three Foot Seven can be established”

    This meeting never happened.

    Prior to the meeting being organised with Brownlee, on 4 October I emailed Peter Jackson expressing my surprise that Philippa Boyens had been on National Radio disclosing elements of the meeting I had had with her, Jackson and Walsh when we had agreed that the only thing that would be said was that which was released in the statement (people may remember I was on Q and A the day after that meeting and refused to discuss the Hobbit). He emailed me back and amongst other things said:

    “I’m going to contact SPADA and encourage them to be very open minded, and take a meeting listening to all the actors concerns. Such an open discussion is long overdue, and I’m sure progress can be made to addressing many of their concerns.”

    So at that point Peter Jackson supported the settlement and we reached a settlement (the original MOU was drafted by SPADA actually) and as you say, let Warners know shortly after. As late as 9 October I was still in contact with Peter Jackson and he was supporting the SPADA process.

    So with CTU support, and on the understanding that Peter Jackson also supported the process we used, we reached a full settlement of the dispute on 13 October and recommended the “do not work” orders be lifted on the Sunday. Given this and the fact that all this information was known to Peter Jackson (as you say, emails veryify this) the meeting and demonstration organised by Weta was a complete surprise and has created an impression that the industrial issues have not been resolved.”

    I can confirm this with information via the CTU we already had.

  106. SPC

    Who called the strike? Was it the NZ actors? As part of what dispute over pay and conditions?

    “solidarity” is what was demonstrated alright… everyone lined up behind MEAA when Whipp made his call, but I rather doubt that the Union movement here is all that pleased with having all the unions here ignored as in not even consulted before this action was taken.


    This isn’t about the global state of affairs, and in fact isn’t the usual situation anyway, as the real union involved, SAG, has the clout to shut down production anywhere if it so chooses. More clout than any comparable trade union in any other industry of which I am aware.

    It is one thing to support unions, and the shoulder-to-shoulder principles that are required for them to work are really important, and impossible in a globalized trade environment where no union has that same globalized reach.

    That is all good, but that is not what we’re discussing. Nor is the Green party a trade union. We may in general feel that we should keep “solidarity” with workers given the global issues, but that does not mean being completely blind to the instances when a union abuses its position.

    Which appears to many of us to be the case here, and not just the non-green voters and guests here.


  107. So SPC, to paraphrase, what you are saying is that as a result of global union solidarity and action there will be countries that are losers, and that countries losing (for example) their film industry is an acceptable price to be paid for this solidarity.

    I certainly don’t agreee with that. If it seems that is more or less what Australia did, and they are now a less favorable location to make movies as a result of it. Which means many film craftspeople in Oz are no longer in work.

    And as to your latter point:

    …as if the whole sector should be organised for the benefits of foreign capitalists

    Thats exactly the way the film industry works everywhere in the world, except the Studio Zone.

    You’ce not keeping up the the back there, are you. Let me quote myself:

    …the only place in the world where films have a right to be made in in the Studio Zone in Hollywood. Any other location anywhere in the world (including the rest of the USA) that gets to make movies (other than the occasional local minor interest film) does so because the fat cats in Hollywood bestow it.

    You may not like it, it sure as hell is not fair, but that is the reality of the situation.

  108. Rather than demonising MEEA, its more appropriate to note their agenda to support the local industry as a solidarity building exercise. Such solidarity is necessary to confront a global business which can play off one nation against another (in tax laws and working conditions). Which is why they publicised their involvement as they did.

    Of course this wider agenda does conflict with film production scheduling/hired worker contract completion timetables – which is where the local actors (and here the CTU gets involved as mediator) end game comes in.

    The ultimate end game is clear enough – now it’s important for the worker contracts for this film and the next one have some “consistency/agreed terms”. That is the completion of the films surety that those financing production need. More effort on this and less public posturing is in order. It’s all very well for Jackson to say the terms offered are good, he has to understand that sometimes workers are acting not just for their own financial rewards but on behalf of actors and their union and to improve conditions in their wider industry.

    Complicating this is the governments effort to provide surety to international investors by driving down conditions in the local industry for workers – as if the whole sector should be organised for the benefits of foreign capitalists and or local employers.

  109. Umm! Gerrit. MUNZ do that for the company I work for right now.

    Enlightenment at last.

    However judging by the rhetoric on the Maritime Union Web Site I would guess that its is a very small part of their operation.

    Still, from little acorns…………………………….

  110. It’s always revealing when all the non Green voting guests on the blog adopt a common cause – such as union bashing here and related fawning on the primacy of international capital (they apparently go together with support for low tax and low government spending – lower wages to workers saving money to afford tax cuts).

    Clearly Greens around the world and here stand up against international capital on the side of labour – this as part of fair trade policy. Just as is done in defence of the environment. Of course this is attacked by the right as being “watermelon” Greens. But the values behind the defence of the environment converge with the advocacy of justice for the human being in the global labour market.

    Capitalists move to nations where labour laws and environment regulation are limited. So if nations which place a value on justice and collective solidarity against centres of power do nothing then the world becomes a poorer place.

    The PM and others suggest blaming the foreigners for their solidarity with locals in getting a better film deal, as if this solidarity then risks the local project. Though ironically the dispute is more about the local industry conditions in general than this project itself.

    It’s a pity that Jackson did not risk manage this better and get the worker arrangements sorted earlier – it’s the whole package – local capability and finalised organisation to provide surety to the producers that gets the film made here. Leaving the worker contract arrangments to last always invites brinkmanship – as this industry, and others organised globally, has a track record of exampling those who dare to organise to obtain a share of the profits. And this industry is notorious for the way books operate …

    (PS its not just WB here but NL).

  111. Kerry…

    Usually before a strike or blacklist there is a pay or benefits or some other sort of demand that isn’t being met.
    Usually before a strike or blacklist the Union members affected get asked to vote on it.
    Usually the demands don’t involve asking the employer to break the law.
    Usually if an industry has an organization like SPADA to talk to, that’s who to talk to.
    …and that still ignores that this industry is rather different from most others in the nature of the talent, working arrangements and types of remuneration. Contractors don’t get “residuals” in most industries as an example.


  112. BJ,

    Gerrit… arguing that there should not be ANY job actions or strikes

    Never said there should not be any job action or strikes. Just made the observation that NZL unions only have the strike option.

    They never discuss improved productivity, profit share, job training, running members welfare schemes such as retirement funds, healthcare, etc.

    NZL unions would never ever think about tendering for work to get members employment or running HR schemes for companies.

    Totally out of the mindset of cloth cap unionist.

  113. BJ. What is different about the action by this union. Apart from the overreaction from the usual suspects?

    Sam. Agreed. To have a sustainable society we need a change to a sustainable monetary system and buy in by most people. Which also means we need real democracy.

  114. In the US the thing that is taking the country down the tubes is the bankers cut. The businesses are working well or not based on whether they are well run or not… and based on their exposure to what the bankers are doing.

    I wouldn’t take the US as a negative example run amok in either direction vis-a-vis unions. It has a bit of both sides there. Here is here, and different from any other place. Moreover there’s a big problem.

    Gerrit… arguing that there should not be ANY job actions or strikes is to deny the workers the only tool they have to face down a corporate. Deny them that tool and you have to set up some sort of independent binding arbitration for disputes and it has got to be really independent… like made up of aliens from the greater Magellanic cloud.

    I reckon we really do need the unions AND their power to shut things down when that is required to achieve something like equality.

    The point is that this is an adversarial model in which it is completely untenable to have the power balance be one-sided. The extension of the corporates to a multinational base and the globalization of industrial activity makes it impossible for any ordinary unions to wield any sort of stick at all. The jobs go overseas too easily. The wage competition is too easily orchestrated. That means that globalization has in FACT shifted the power over to the corporate side in a major way.

    There are only two ways for this to be managed that I can think of. The first is to remove the ease of goods and money transfers that make globalization so easy. The other is to allow the creation of unions that have the very same sort of international scope as the corporations.

    SAG is a good example of how an international union organization actually does have clout. They can, if they choose to do so, shut down most productions almost no matter WHERE the productions go.

    That needs to be the case for the garment workers… or there have to be trade barriers that protect the local workers from the international competition.

    Neither of those things are now true. The corporates “own” the system because they transcend national boundaries in ways the unions cannot.

    Which is the real reason why workers in the US are looking at massive layoffs. The increasing GINI indices all around the world indicate that this shift is real.

    Which still does not make this action by THIS union anything but raw.


  115. Gerrit

    So come up with better alternatives then strike action. I can name a few (such as lifting performance, being judged on how good you are to gain pay rises, lifting productivity, etc., etc.)

    Lifting performance and productivity will usually only make the boss richer. Relying on the boss to do the right thing and reward a worker for their hard work is foolish. Simply; unionism is required because only a fool relies on the boss or company to reward harder work or better production.

    Clearly the teachers are striking because they have not been appropriately rewarded for their harder work. They have been given less time and resources, couple this with higher class numbers, and it is no wonder we are not retaining our teachers. The mentality of New Zealanders that we have to do everything on the budget of an oily rag needs to be thrown in the bin. Investing in our young by giving them a proper education cannot be over emphasised. If the movie industry were rewarded appropriately for their prior success, they would not need to think about striking either.

    Nationals cuts to early childhood education and tertiary education make perfect sense to people like Gerrit. This will inevitably make the populace less educated and less likely to stand up for their rights. Drones are easier to control and will accept working their arses off in shit for a few peanuts. This will further entrench poverty and misery in a country where it does not need to exist at all.

    If we follow US policies, we will inevitably end up with less workplace safety, more homeless, more crime, less home ownership and less security in nearly every respect. Why on earth would we follow policies that have been proven to fail? Their policies simply do not translate to our small country. We need to come up with our own solutions so that all New Zealanders are rewarded for their hard work and not ripped off.

  116. Kerry,

    I agree with most, if not all, of what you write.

    However, I’ve lost faith in the current political system to be able to make significant improvements for working people. I think its going to take a lot more direct action from the people affected by government policies to make the politicians listen.

    Without debating the causes, can you imagine New Zealanders acting the same way as people in France, Greece and other parts or Europe are now? Until people take more direct action, I’m afraid that the politicians will plow on with their ideologically driven agendas without listening to the people who are being affected.

  117. nor, I suspect for ideological reasons, do they actually want that for their members.

    What a curious comment. Do you care to expand on what those ideological reasons might be?

  118. “The economic situation in the USA has absolutely nothing to do with the trade union movement”.

    Pleased you agree Gerrit. Same here. Our lack of economic performance lies squarely at the door of Government and banks who have sold us all down the river for immediate gain for themselves. That is were we should be looking for traitors.

  119. I am not for compulsory unionism. I am for people being better educated about the role of unions in the past. And real sanctions against certain employers who cut peoples hours or sack them if they even mention working conditions or joining a union.

    If all bosses looked after their employees fairly then there would be no reason for unions. Most do not unless they are forced. Strikes are the only method off force workers have.

    Productivity has gone up many times since 1980. 80%. Wages for most workers have gone down. The average has gone up because of increased unemployment for the low waged and some ridiculous rises at the high end. For most people working harder, not striking and being much more productive has resulted in working longer hours for less money.

    The extra money was supposed to be re-invested in productive business in NZ. Instead investment in NZ business has dropped by 2/3.

    Like the UK the most money is made in financial services. I.E. Making money go around in ever decreasing circles.

    So Gerrit your suggestions have already been proven not to work for anyone including NZ’s manufacturers.

  120. Kerry,

    Gerrit may well want workers to cave in. However, what Gerrit wants is kind of irrelevant. I seriously doubt that union members will listen to him, and will instead form organisations which represent their own interests.

    Personally, I reckon compulsory unionism is a bad thing because non-supportive members cause more damage if they’re in the union than if they are out of it.

  121. Gerrit. You are saying basically that workers should just cave in and take whatever their generous bosses give them.

    Rubbish, I offered the opinion that by following how USA unions organise themselves for their members welfare, is a much sounder alternative then the members going on strike to get better conditions for their members.

    The economic situation in the USA has absolutely nothing to do with the trade union movement.

    Strawman argument.

    …..teachers should get more pay and smaller classes, but also reckon they should not strike to get them.

    So come up with better alternatives then strike action. I can name a few (such as lifting performance, being judged on how good you are to gain pay rises, lifting productivity, etc., etc.)

    But ALL we get is going on strike.

    Yes we ALL want higher pay, better conditions, longer holidays, more scope for advancement, the unions in New Zealand just dont know how to get that for their members nor, I suspect for ideological reasons, do they actually want that for their members.

    After all if you have a happy workforce why belong to a union that all they want you to do is go on strike.

  122. Gerrit. The USA is going down the tubes even faster than us. I wonder why?

    I see that a majority in your favorite news paper’s polling reckon teachers should get more pay and smaller classes, but also reckon they should not strike to get them.

    Without striking they will not get anything but a 4% pay cut.

    Why should unions take on the costs of things that mostly benefit employers, not their members.

    Gerrit. You are saying basically that workers should just cave in and take whatever their generous bosses give them.

  123. And what we had from 1940 to 1990 was what you get with compulsory unionism.

    If voted on this day and age, compulsory unionism is dead in the water.

    Not even Labour will entertain that notion (and for nine years refused all attempts to instigate compulsion)

    Time for unions to doff the cloth cap and move into the hard hat age like unions in the USA have done.

    They compete very well in a non compulsory environment taking responsibilty for members savings, retirement, home loans, heath care, job training, plus much more.

    They will even take on the HR role in organisations if asked.

    All things a New Zealand cloth cap unionist leader is incapable of setting up for their members.

    There lies the problem, not employers but the workers being led by incompetant unions leaders.

  124. If you want to discuss the GENERAL issue of unions vs business, that is a perfectly reasonable place to go and there is no doubt at all that Unions have a real place in the system.

    The problem is that they have to be just as globalized as the companies they are fighting. So an individual union in China isn’t going to be able to prevent the company from getting the the same work done in Uzbekistan.

    This is one of the reasons SAG has the power to shut down the film. SAG has global reach.

    The problem however, is that with that power comes responsibility, and it is pretty clear that Whipp was irresponsible… even reckless, in his abuse of power. As irresponsible as the companies can be, so he managed to be.

    That he had the power to pick up the phone and get SAG to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with him is really quite amazing given that he can’t bring himself to defend his decision or apologize for it. He really has to do one of the two, or be judged to be a complete a55hole. Which is the judgment most New Zealanders reached even before they met the stone-faced silence of a jerk who has an ego but no answers.


  125. When I started work (many moons ago) Union membership was compulsory & we relied upon them to ensure we got decent wages & conditions.. since this went out the window, we’ve got MINIMUM wages, 90 day dismissal laws, demands for med. cert. after one day sick, talk of trading of rec. leave & errosion of other rights previous generations fought for & demanded, for ALL workers. I say that its time that respect was again a two-way street & that the rights of workers are listened to. Employers on big, fat salaries cannot make it without their workers to do the ‘WORK’. Kia-ora

  126. This is what you have without unions.

    “US companies threaten to withdraw from China if the Government weakens laws preventing independent unions”.

    These were activists who were trying to better working conditions so bad that people are committing suicide.

    Businesses are withdrawing from NZ because they are allowed to use slave labour elsewhere, NZ employees no longer have the money to buy their products, an overpriced NZ dollar, higher business interest rates and we gave away all our protectionism before any one else did.

    That we would have Muldoon era type politicking against unions was inevitable. The RWNJ’s fighting back.

  127. A rock and a hard place.

    The thing is… we have lots of highly skilled professionals who are paid chump change. It’s not just in film making, it’s endemic throughout New Zealand. Why the hell should they accept such shit wages for such hard work. They are trying to reward success with peanuts. Pay people what they are worth. This would ensure top quality production.

    If we have to loose The Hobbit to highlight the fact that people aren’t getting paid enough for what they do, then so be it. Get a back bone and fight for realistic pay rates. Tell the corporate money grubbing A holes to piss of back to dumb ville where they belong. Let the brain dead masses drivel on about how bad the unions are because that’s what the box said, and summarily give them the finger as well.

    It’s our skills which are World class that will keep film making in New Zealand. We should not undervalue ourselves just because right wing media tells us we are wrong. I don’t think such movies like The Lord of the Rings can be replicated anywhere else. Professionals should be paid properly for their efforts, it’s as simple as that.

  128. BJ,

    As ever you put into words so clearly what is foremost in the mind.

    This is rated one of the most business friendly places on earth after all.

    2010 survey results here


    There measurements are very very broad (like how easy it is to start and wind up a business for example) so would not read to much into the survey. Next year they will include workers perceptions. Should be interesting.

    Question for all,

    Aside from the chinese investment into sea cucumber aquaculture in Opotiki, what major investments have occured in New Zealand to provide and sustain workers rights with productive, tradeable sector jobs?

  129. Sam:

    Exactly – the ‘thems’ have often told New Zealand workers to shut up and take their lumps or the ‘thems’ will go find more a cheaper and more compliant workforce in some other country.

    As I noted earlier – the only place in the world where films have a right to be made in in the Studio Zone in Hollywood. Any other location anywhere in the world (including the rest of the USA) that gets to make movies (other than the occasional local minor interest film) does so because the fat cats in Hollywood bestow it.

    Thus 10% of our export income is basically there because the folks you call “the workers” have to take their lumps, yes.

    But of those workers:

    * The craftspeople are happy with their lot (and p*ssed at the current action). The craftspeople are the New Zealand film industry.

    * The named actors who have no other career are happy with their lot

    * The bit part actors are not full time actors; their terms and conditions of the majority of their employment are set by McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut etc, but these part timers are the individuals involved in trying to kill it for the industry.

    This is not a dispute of equals.

  130. Toad, Gerrit

    I see an interesting disconnect here.

    First part is that in terms of the class war, the winners were clearly the wealthy, not the poor and absolutely never the middle-class.

    Businesses leaving NZ and/or never getting started here. That has to do with a Union vs Employer struggles? I don’t think that’s the same as the first. It seems to me that there is scarcely a clear winner in it. I don’t think that the Union vs Employer struggle is as important as the OTHER issues for running a business here.

    This is rated one of the most business friendly places on earth after all.

    I don’t see the wealthy leaving so much as the middle-class skilled workers.

    Yet I don’t see businesses starting either. My perception of the problem is that a business here has to rely on foreign capital, as New Zealanders have historically been loathe to invest in aught but property and NZ capital is not available (being tied up in overpriced property). There is also a problem with the skill base as those do the technical work, leave. That isn’t about unions, more to do with a tax hump and a lack of interesting work, a massive student loan and an inability to buy a house.

    What I don’t see are such disadvantageous employment arrangements that the businessmen can’t operate. There’s some good, some bad and businessmen the world over complain about labor and labor the world over complains about the employers. I don’t see that there’s a “winner” here.


    The notion that WB gives a rats rear end about the details of the case of 3 foot 6, seems unlikely to me. Whether a Union can represent the Actors who are usually regarded as contractors in collective negotiations…. that law seems more likely to be modified. If it is, the modification needs to be fairly specific to the film industry, not the usual sort of work Parliament produces.

    I repeat my earlier points more specifically:

    1. I don’t think that the NZ actors were even asked before the Australian Union boss called SAG.

    2. I do think that the Union members, both the NZ actors and the global SAG organization showed excellent solidarity when asked to take action.

    3. I also think that everyone on the planet is p!ssed off at the Australians. Because this WAS an embarrassment, it WAS a setback for NZ actors, and it DOES reflect badly on SAG which knows that its power was misused. It does put at risk the NZ film industry. It threatens the stability of a massive investment by WB.

    The only possible entity that might still regard that Australian Union organizer favorably would he his dog… if he had one.

    4. This problem was a SPECIFIC problem. Not a general problem. I doubt that any union would vote a ruction during the Rugby World Cup. I doubt that the NZ branch of the Actors Guild voted for this. They’re forced to support it, and the CTU is forced to support them, by the principle of solidarity.

    5. Accordingly I am persuaded that they are p!ssed off at the Australians too. As I suspect, given some of my friends from a while ago, is SAG.

    Where the wheels come off for the party is that we should automatically assume that the UNION always is on the side of the angels here. That is what Keith is doing, what some of the others here are doing. This is not a Union. We don’t have to maintain “solidarity” even when we think there has been a mistake.

    We have a responsibility, indeed a NEED to think about it and try to get it right, not to assume. NOT to be seen as one-sided.

    The LAST thing this party needs is to get itself associated in the public’s mind, with the loser who called for this blacklist. That’s what I see here. The pre-election political suicide pact that we appear to enter into just before an election year… again… and with even less reason this time.


  131. – but it isn’t the workers who have instigated the war.

    But they certainly lost it.

    Won the battle and lost the war.

    The union movement is not helping themselves at all by this type of action.


    And a backtrack like this is an embarrasment for the CTU.


    Marches are planned in support of the Hobbit movie making being retained in New Zealand.

    I would wager these will have a strong anti union flavour.

  132. “The “Thems’” have long been pulling out of New Zealand, just as Warner Bros are doing.”

    Exactly – the ‘thems’ have often told New Zealand workers to shut up and take their lumps or the ‘thems’ will go find more a cheaper and more compliant workforce in some other country.

    A classic class war maneuver – but it isn’t the workers who have instigated the war.

  133. Keith: Standardising conditions for actors. Thats funny. So should Sir Ian Mckellen have the same conditions (and presumably rate of pay) as elfs one, two and three?

    Its quite sad that the best-paid bit part players probably in the world can be positioned to potentially cause so much damage to the country. And that is somewhere approaching the definition of treason.

    Fingers crossed for Monday.

    And a note on actors and employees versus contractors – almost always, when a film is made, a specific limited liability company is set up, and is funded. They make the film, settle the rights, and then hang about for a while until there is no point in them existing, and then the company is shuttered. This is true worldwide; check the credits on the next film one watches to see the name of the company that actually made it, almost always very close to the last thing on screen.

    For example, taking some recent Jackson movies, King Kong was made by Big Primate Pictures Ltd, which still exists, but turned over all of $18K, of which 10K went to the Auditors, and The Hobbits will, all being well, be made by 3 Foot 7 Ltd. Neither of these companies will ever make another movie.

    As these companies are transientary things, that have no long term future, I’m not convinced an employment arrangement is in the interests of either party. A non-long-term arrangement, which is what contracting effectively is, makes much better sense, as all the responsibilitis in both directions only last for the period of the contract.

  134. Oh dear, lets spell it out.

    No “thems” = no employers
    no employers = no employees
    no employees = no wages
    no wages = no taxes
    no taxes = no welfare

    That is what is missing, the concept that there can be created a workers paradise without the “thems” and only the “us”.

    Cloth cap thinking from coal miners struggles in the 1930 that are no longer applicable it the 21st Century.

  135. “..A battle long won by the workers in New Zealand…”

    i guess you haven’t heard of that low-wage economy we have..?

    ..a cowed/subserviant union movement is one of the factors in that…

    ..so if the workers have ‘won’…

    how would you measure that..?

    …high wages..?…long/multiple-holidays..?

    ..90 day bill…?

    ..what am i missing here…?


  136. On a roll here,

    Otherwise, the employer wins, and all the employees, from whichever perspective they are coming from, get screwed.

    Oh, the “Them versus US” attitude. Still fighting the class warfare battle? A battle long won by the workers in New Zealand.

    The “Thems'” have long been pulling out of New Zealand, just as Warner Bros are doing.

    Biggest employer in New Zealand is the non productive state sector. No private employers of any note are left in New Zealand to employ tax paying workers to feed the state sector.

    Still the workers have won the battle.

    Unfortunately they have lost the war. The war to create a sustainable and viable economic model for New Zealand workers.

  137. toad,

    A “workers’ march” (albeit employer-led) on another workers’ meeting is a very bad look.

    I call it freedom of association.

    Another CTU stuff up. Making decisions for one small group of workers without consulting other interested (union or not) worker parties.

    Those workers not represented by the CTU had every right to march as they saw fit.

    The last thing you would want is that right taken away.

  138. Gerrit, I say that if workers and their unions have disputes between themselves, they should keep it in-house and attempt to resolve it privately.

    A “workers’ march” (albeit employer-led) on another workers’ meeting is a very bad look.

    Meet together, discuss the differences, and try to come to a mutually agreed solution.

    Otherwise, the employer wins, and all the employees, from whichever perspective they are coming from, get screwed.

  139. toad,

    So to show solidarity you say that anyone that does not is “sucked in”.

    Takes all sorts I guess.

    I prefer people who have opnions they can discuss without adherence to blind faith in a notion called solidarity.

  140. If we read the herald report


    we find that the WORLD wide ban was not lifted in time and that the CTU restractions were conveyed through press releases.

    “It was not until last night that we received confirmation of the retractions from SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild), NZ Equity and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) through press reports. We are still awaiting retractions from the other guilds.”

    I guess you can read the email releases any which way but the primary WORLD wide ban instigated by the Australian Union was not retracted, just the local ones and then through a press release, not by formal contact bewteen the two parties.

    Still a bad look on the CTU and Helen Kelly in particular.

  141. that russel brown has taken the stance he has comes as no surprise..

    ..he is on the record as supporting everything that neo-liberal ‘new labour’ govt ever did…

    …for nine long years..

    ..and for those nine long years he was totally silent about the iniquities suffered by so many under that regime…


    ..he is about as ‘left’ as my right foot…


  142. @Gerrit 9:42 PM

    I come from a position of solidarity. That is, I back employees’ claims publicly, even though I sometimes may disagree with aspects of them.

    If we are genuinely into advancing workers’ rights, workers’ representatives need to address the differences between themselves in private, and work towards an amicable solution that we all can live with.

    That is why I was so appalled by one group of workers marching on another group of workers’ union meeting in Wellington. FFS, they are all in this together. If the actors get screwed first, the techie workers, who were apparently most of the marchers (although led by their employer), are next. They need to realise that, and act in solidarity with, rather than against, the long term interests of them and their their fellow workers.

  143. More coming out. Helen Kelly has released emails that show Warners and the CTU had brokered an agreement two days before PJ went public.

    In other words she was not the one telling porkies.

    Either of two things. No communication between Warners and PJ or extraordinary bad faith on the Studio’s part.

    Now the studio will get another 20 mil for helping out NACT with their union bashing. Which was what it was about all along.

    I would say some people did get sucked in by their desire to see. “Big bad Unionists”.

  144. toad,

    You have not shown any respect at all for Russell Brown or BJ opinion by saying they have been “sucked in by Warnwer Bros big film propaganda”.

    If you had any respect you would have acknowledged their position as coming from a genuine held believe and presented your opinion on the union versus the rest of New Zealand in a factual and succinct manner by explaining where their opinion is wrong.

    Your “respect” for BJ and Russell Brown is false, your insinuation that they are “sucked in” is insulting and the least you could do is apologise and respect their position and view point.

    Just as they (and no doubt others) will respect yours if you were to put it as clearly as the two gentleman have done.

    Your attitude is patronising in the extreme.

  145. @Graham White 8:11 PM

    I have a lot of respect for Russell Brown. But on this occasion, I think he has been sucked in by Warners’ big-film propaganda and has unwittingly and unfortunately become a propagandist for big business.

    I’ll always back the little people struggling to make a living, over the big corporates who make billions (literally – in cases like this of major films) dollars in profit.

  146. It all reminds me of a story of a bunch of little people on a mission to get at a big pile of gold, guarded by a big baddie.

  147. “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.” Yes, the Actors that are getting paid millions of dollars have caused the actors that are desperate for jobs to loose them.

    Their tactic was an international boycott. Once that had been sustained, there is instability perceived in our labour market, Warner Brothers are spooked.

  148. Why did this happen? well – MEAA’s representative, Simon Whipp, admitted in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, that it was his intention to use The Hobbit as a way to ‘unionise other productions’ in the New Zealand film industry –

    “Let’s be positive and hope that all the parties (Warners, Peter Jackson and the union) can move ahead and make a great movie.”

    Let’s be positive about Warners and Peter Jackson, but the unions, in fact, the more we bag them the better as that’s what Warners is worried about. They do not deserve our sympathy, they caused this, and tried to demonize the 1,500 people marching down the Street protesting the 83 members of the MEAA by calling them a “lynch mob” and calling Peter Jackson a “spoilt brat.”

    Once they realised that the public is not on their side they started spinning around but no one believes them because they have no credibility, what was that about Robyn Malcolm requiring police support after being attacked at the Matterhorn? I have seen the video, not only was there no police, but it was a group of techies that are losing their job because of them asking Simon why he initiated the nuclear bomb without consulting people that work on the project.

    Helen Kelly been key in assisting New Zealand to lose billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, she should go to Australia and raise the IQ of both countries.

    I’m not an actor, I am a New Zealander, and I am angry at what the union has done to our film industry.

  149. BJ – I think you are sincere, but maybe a bit distracted on this issue. I think something to focus on is this judgment from the Supreme Court, and how big film money is going to seriously back attempts to overturn it.

    And since they can’t overturn a Supreme Court judgment judicially, the plan must be to get the Government to legislate, supported by “appropriate” uproar and backing from the vested interests.

    BJ, I think your analysis here is usually spot on (um, apart from s 59).

    But I also think you have missed the boat on this one.

  150. Toad

    I have seen zero evidence of WB getting up to anything like that.

    No evidence at all but that they reacted to a blacklisting, not demands from actors for more money, better conditions or left handed bananas… nothing accepted or rejected by the studio, nor any demands from WB any more unreasonable than to be able to be sure that their half-billion dollar production will not be held hostage by an Aussie union lunatic again.

    Which is rather difficult for them since that lunatic is still in the decision loop. Might be some of the folks at WB and SAG and the NZ branches of Equity know who actually made the call to SAG. If I were them I would be bemused, disgusted at being used or frankly homicidal in order.

    Robyn Malcolm tried to divert us into ignoring the fact that the they’d just called a global blacklisting of the production. She is stuck with an indefensible position by the actions of her Australian union bosses. Whether she believes in her position or not, it was not something I expect she chose.


  151. @photonz1 4:34 PM

    Their greed and stupidity may cost billions of dollars to all sorts of NZ industries from film, technicians, tourism, hotels, taxis, restaurants etc.

    What about Warner Bros greed and stupidity that, just to squeeze a bit more profit on something that will likely make them billions of dollars, they can’t afford to give a couple of hundred jobbing actors decent wages and conditions? Oh, but they are the boss, so all the jobbing actors should bow and scrape and be grateful for the relative pittance they receive, I suppose, according to your reasoning.

    As for your specious argument about “contractors” and “price-fixing”, this issue is the AE actors don’t want to be contractors, they want to be employees.

    @stephensmikm 4:52 PM

    … and Ms Malcolm need to ensure they don’t hold the nation to ransom again.

    Robyn Malcolm has no personal interest in this at all – she is a successful actor who has made a lot of money from her talent. In case you don’t get it, she is fronting this in solidarity with other actors who struggle to earn a living. She remembers the times she struggled, and empathises with the many actors who still do.

    Unlike Peter Jackson, who seems to have forgotten the time he was a struggling film-maker operating on a shoestring budget when he didn’t have any choice but to pay shit rates. Now he does have a choice and an influence, but he sides with a big corporate (Warner Bros), rather than the little people in the industry he once was himself.

    Go Robyn! Love you! You haven’t forgotten your roots, unlike many, it seems, who make it big.

  152. stephen says “Think about the implications if the CTU or another significant Union held a boycott at the time of the World Cup.”

    Too late. Unite Union has already promised to close Auckland down during the world cup.

    They want a general strike during the cup and, in their own words “We’re going to shut this town down,”

    We may as well have the sign up now – “Rugby World Cup, New Zealand 2011 – GO AWAY !!!”

  153. “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.”

    NO. Ms Kelly and Ms Malcolm need to ensure they don’t hold the nation to ransom again. Think about the implications if the CTU or another significant Union held a boycott at the time of the World Cup. that would be the end of unions in the country- many members of those unions would up and leave over the sheer stupidity of it. Equity will be losing members over their stupidity. Mr Lowe is totally justified asking that of a Union that nearly cost NZ over $500 million in resources and much more in subsidiary production, manpower and purchases

    and on your treason point. in many peoples eyes they have let down everyone else, the people they work with on set, the people that hire them and most importantly of all, the people of New Zealand.

  154. Keith says “To listen to some of the players involved in the Hobbit dispute over the last day you would think the actor’s union representatives had committed treason.”

    They virtually have. Offered the best contract ever seen for a film made in NZ, they went for the extreme action of a world wide boycott, and may have destroyed our film industry. We now have three more large movies on hold.

    Their greed and stupidity may cost billions of dollars to all sorts of NZ industries from film, technicians, tourism, hotels, taxis, restaurants etc.

    All to force a collective agreement, which many of the actors have said they don’t even want anyway. They want to be contractors so they have all the tax advantages and higher pay rates.

    Contrary to your claims, crown law has said it is illegal for contractors to bargain collectively.

    Unfortuantely we have people prepared to completely stuff NZ industry just to get their ideological way.

    That is treasonous. And you ere little different Keith.

    You hold your own, sometimes extreme ideology, is clearly far more important to you than what’s best for the country, and obviously you are happy to risk enormous damage to NZ to try to get your way.

Comments are closed.