NZ Green Party
Under-unionised work force not an asset

Hey the world – New Zealanders are smart but poorly paid and not that many are protected by unions. Wahay come on down and go for it! I’ll change the laws to make it even better for y’all!!! LOL

Yours sincerely,

John Key.

The New Zealand Herald today reported how John Key sees the lack of union protection for many Kiwi workers as a selling point for film-makers.

Documents we obtained under the Official Information Act also highlighted that most of the jobs film-making bought to New Zealand were insecure and short-term and didn’t pay too well.

Well that’s ambitious for New Zealand workers – John Key thinks low pay and poor conditions are a marketing point.

We want to see a strong vibrant film industry but we don’t think the way to achieve that is to pay poorly and undermine workers’ rights.

John Key changed our labour laws at the request of Warners.

That was an unnecessary move but just shows how little John Key values Kiwi workers and how much he rates being able to rub shoulders with movie moguls.

The documents we received also highlight how big a deal to Hollywood intellectual property issues are and while Kim Dotcom is not named in the sections released publicly obviously his extradition was going to be a hot topic despite Key telling media he wouldn’t be discussed.

The Greens support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand.  We support jobs in what is on the whole a ‘knowledge industry’ sector.  We acknowledge the marketing benefits movies like the Hobbit offer to our economy.

But we also acknowledge the fact that New Zealand taxpayers gave over $100 million in subsidies for the making of these movies.

We don’t need to sell our laws or our workers short to support the industry.

26 thoughts on “Under-unionised work force not an asset

  1. I don’t mind the subsidies. I DO mind the low wages. We may need the one, but we need to eliminate the other, along with the PM who celebrates it.

    Funny how this PM so accurately represents the usual object of a process of elimination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  2. John Key changed our labour laws at the request of Warners.

    I strongly suspect it was more of a give-away as opposed to point of principled negotiation so that JK could feel like a rainmaker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  3. John Key changed our labour laws at the request of Warners.

    More likely;
    The subsidy was at the request of Warners to offset costs due to the rising NZ dollar.

    The change to the labour law was Jon Key making hay while the sun shone. Warners had just handed him a villain to blame in the form of the NZ Actors’ Equity Union, he probably thought it was Christmas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  4. If wages are low that implies one of two things – either consumers aren’t paying enough or profits are too high. I won’t even bother going into the first. But if profits are too high (which I doubt) then it must be ripe pickings for entrepreneurs to come along and undercut them! (Cue Tui billboard…).

    At the crux of all this is some perception that film workers in NZ are ‘poorly paid’ or mistreated. Any evidence of this? I’m yet to meet one…

    As for the ‘subsidy’ – yeah probably not entirely fair. But we still received more benefit than we would have otherwise, and it isn’t exactly a situation of they got tax breaks therefore the other big blockbuster we had on the go couldn’t compete… If anything it was probably unfair to overseas countries – but then so is printing money…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  5. @hemihua

    An objective precis of the Hobbit issue can be found here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/30/hobbit-actor-union-dispute

    It is clear that the issue had been resolved before subsidies were offered, and before the National Party passed the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2010/0229/latest/whole.html

    Also, Peter Jackson stated himself that the production was never in danger of going overseas http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10695662.

    With the Hobbit laying waste previous box-office records, I’m guessing that profits cannot be too high only if you believe that they can never be too high …

    I won’t address QE, but you should do some research. It can be a useful tool when used properly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  6. At the crux of all this is some perception that film workers in NZ are ‘poorly paid’ or mistreated.

    Actors are definitely poorly paid. Well, those without star status anyway. But that is the same in every country, there are far too many actors looking to far too many opportunities.

    And that is what all the static was about. Actors.

    The reality is that almost all the Actors who are part of Equity are not full time Actors, they are part timers, and, as the Hollywood reality goes, their proper job is to be part of the food service industry. Very few make the jump to full time well paid acting. They all started somewhere non-acting, for a few examples see here and here.

    But Actors aren’t actually “film workers”. Film workers are very happy with their lot, and they were the folk who marched in Wellington against the Actors, as the Actor’s actions threatened the livelihoods of the film workers.

    As I put it in another place, by way of illustration of the relationship, and absolutely intending no disrespect; if the film industry was the dairy industry, then the film workers would be Fonterra, and the Actors would be the cows.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  7. An objective precis of the Hobbit issue can be found here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/30/hobbit-actor-union-dispute

    Oops, not objective; author is Helen Kelly. However the assertions made are factual, as is the timeline. Just need to ignore some of the emotive language used.

    For the record, I like Peter Jackson. He does remarkable work, so I’m quite happy to give him (and Fran Walsh) a pass on his role in this fight and believe that he was simply played by Warner’s (despite overwhelming evidence that suggests he is a very smart and savvy guy).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  8. But then again… (and certainly the first three sentences were correct!)

    We have been there and back again with The Hobbit – we were as keen as any other organisation or person to see The Hobbit filmed here, but it did not need to be at the expense of film industry workers rights.

    There is some very selective terminology here: the “film industry workers” are the people who protested against the union action…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 (+3)

  9. You’re right, the Helen Kelly piece in the Guardian was not the best choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  10. If anything it was probably unfair to overseas countries – but then so is printing money…

    Yet most of THEM are doing exactly THAT to US.

    }}:-[

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  11. Printing money doesn’t come without risk. I’d be in favour of the government taking control of credit creation but certainly wouldn’t grant it power to spend it – give them that power and you might as well kiss the currency bye bye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  12. There is risk in all currency “creation” mechanisms, yet it has to be created by some process, and that creation has to be under the control of the sovereign state, not the private bank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  13. There are wiggles with only allowing central banks to create money though. Whether these are problems or benefits depends on your viewpoint.

    Currently, pretty much everything is funded by money created by commercial banks. You want to eat, drive, have a house, if capital is requred to do something then it probably is as the result of a “loan” somewhere down the line, and that money is created by the commercial banks.

    If money coudn’t be created by the commercial banks, where would the financing for pretty much everything come from? For the commercial banks to continue to loan money, they would have to get it from somewhere. So either from depositors, or from some central bank. Would the central bank just give this money to commercial banks? Would they demand so quid pro quo for it? Would they demand repayment? How could it work?

    And then (and hemihua alluded to this above) if the central bank (a part of government) had control over money creation, the next thing you know that the central bank would just be giving money to governments, which breaks all sorts of rules.

    I don’t like the current arrangement, but there doesn’t seem an easy fix to it at this time. What worked when the world population was tiny and the rate of progress infinitessimilly slow doesn’t loook a valid approach in the 21st century.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  14. I’d be in favour of the government taking control of credit creation but certainly wouldn’t grant it power to spend it.

    The government is already granted power (by voters) to spend the money today (by presentation of the Budget to Parliament); as govt. doesn’t control credit creation, they have to pay interest to 3rd parties (banks) in order to provide a public good.

    This to be is an insane situation so there must surely be some sensible middle ground.

    Possibly a beefed up and genuinely politically independent Central Bank (with elected senior officials!) holding a mandate and charter to control money supply and that the government has to petition at budget time to release funds? – Possibly mandating that like any enterprise, the govt of the day needs to present a business case that justifies the budgeted expenditure and clearly describes the states collateral, existing liabilities and income sources in order to ensure that the NZ public sees a reasonable stewardship of debt that they will be asked to cover.

    This Central Bank could then loan money to the State and commercial banks with the RoR (set along the lines of the current OCR structure), possibly with extended powers to compulsorily buy back currency from the banks to control money supply and manage the exchange rate within a prescribed band?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  15. which breaks all sorts of rules

    Hardly. The entire point to a government run “by the people” is that it is accountable “to the people”. PEOPLE as opposed to government, tend to act responsibly. The question is how the government of the people actually implements its responsibilities.

    What has been shown IMHO, is that the attempt to evade them by handing them to the private sector does NOT successfully isolate government from them and worse, gives control over government to the bankers, rather than the people.

    Before Jekyll Island the national accounts of most nations were simply held by the governments of those nations. It isn’t a mystery.

    As to how to fix it, you’re quite right. There isn’t an easy way to get them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains, or their control over government. In larger nations I would call it an impossibility short of actual revolt. Here I would expect it to be merely a really hard thing to do.

    The roles of banks and the government central bank, would change a lot. I have not attempted to define the new structure to any degree, but the use of/charging of interest would not be a feature of the system I envision. I vastly prefer demurrage to control the currency and its velocity. There are subtle differences.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  16. Gregor W:

    The government is already granted power (by voters) to spend the money today (by presentation of the Budget to Parliament); as govt. doesn’t control credit creation, they have to pay interest to 3rd parties (banks) in order to provide a public good.

    Indeed, the government gets the money it spends on our behalf by either taking it off us as tax, or getting it elsewhere. These mechanisms provides very real, desirable constraints on government spending.

    Now imaghine if a government could just magic money out of nowhere. Wouldn’t that be cool? They could just spend, spend, spend without restriction, and we wouldn’t moan, leastways not in the short term, as we would benefit, all upside, and no downside.

    For a while, at least…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  17. Now imaghine if a government could just magic money out of nowhere. Wouldn’t that be cool? They could just spend, spend, spend without restriction, and we wouldn’t moan, leastways not in the short term, as we would benefit, all upside, and no downside.

    This the argument the National Party used against QE.
    It’s a sound argument as long as you believe that giving someone a glass of water is the same as trying to drown them.
    It also means that this unconventional tool of monetary policy is no longer politically available to them.
    And given the level of incompetence shown by the National Party over the last 4 years, it’s probably a good thing that they won’t do any QE, they’d screw it up and we’d be in a worse position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  18. Now imagine if a government could just magic money out of nowhere. Wouldn’t that be cool? They could just spend, spend, spend without restriction….

    Hence my scribblings positing an alternative in paras 4 and 5 :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  19. Now imaghine if a government could just magic money out of nowhere.

    Not a solution anyone proposes. Money represents work done. It has to be chained to “work done” in some form. That is the constraint on what government is allowed to do that has to be enforced. The mechanism of enforcing it is a matter of government structure and public oversight, something Gregor has already discussed.

    The problem is that as soon as one arranges for something like this, there is always someone making unwarranted remarks about unconstrained government spending.

    That HAS NEVER BEEN AND IS NEVER GOING TO BE GREEN POLICY – IT IS A STUPID RIGHT WING STRAWMAN (is there any instance of an intelligent strawman outside the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”?)

    I would appreciate it if people posting here would refrain from pursuing the nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  20. I don’t know why they bother coming in here really – they are not interested in genuine discussion about issues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  21. BJ:

    That is the constraint on what government is allowed to do that has to be enforced.

    Enforced by whom or what? Governments generally don’t do “enforced upon”, they get to make the rules. Its all very well saying ‘chained to “work done”‘ but that is a variable feast.

    This goes to Gregor’s “para four and five” – the government and the central bank may well end up disagreeing. Who should prevail. The elected representatives? The bankers in suits? What would the electorate think?

    I’ve no idea why BJ has gone all capital letters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  22. What would the electorate think?

    You got shouted at because you were pushing the meme of Green financial irresponsibility. You know, since you’ve been here a lot, that it is a bullshit thing that people say about us, but that is not practised by us.

    I don’t have a great deal of patience with it any more. People who make that claim are going to get told off. Even if I regard them as respectable in all other regards.

    The answer to your question is that the process has to be exposed directly, where the electorate can decide it. There are several aspects to it, not quite as simple as “issuing money”. The government gets to issue money backed by “work done” by the nation as a whole. This includes the work generated at the hydro dams and that may be the limit to what the government can create/loan/spend without going “into debt” to future generations. Certainly that is my first choice because it is (comparatively) simple to measure. To issue money beyond that limit takes the agreement of the electorate, and a debt overtly and explicitly owed to future generations is undoubtedly going to be a harder sell, we have to be buying something that benefits those future generations or I doubt ANY such debt will be able to be created.

    People tend to think better about this stuff when the question is clearly stated. Politicians obfuscate and diddle the books, but the level of stored energy and rate of generation is hard to conceal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  23. You got shouted at because you were pushing the meme of Green financial irresponsibility.

    I believe I used the term “government” in conjunction with financial irresponsibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  24. @dbuck

    Who should prevail. The elected representatives? The bankers in suits? What would the electorate think?

    That all comes down to the quality of the legislation.

    Question: Who prevails between the Courts and the Government today in terms of disagreement over legal interpretation?
    Answer: The courts…until the government decides to change the law.

    I imagine the same would apply if legislation pertaining to the functions and mandate of an independent Central Monetary Authority vis-a-vis the Government.

    If the law is changed because the Government of the day doesn’t like being asked to be accountable to an independent body (Note para 4 “with elected senior officials!”), then they should be treated with the contempt they so richly deserve for subverting democratic processes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

The ability to post further comments on this blog will return after the election.