The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Parliament Passes Hobbit Bill



Elentari03
Rivendell

Oct 29 2010, 12:43am


Views: 5739
Parliament Passes Hobbit Bill

http://tvnz.co.nz/...-hobbit-bill-3865048

(This post was edited by Silverlode on Oct 29 2010, 12:45am)


duats
Grey Havens

Oct 29 2010, 12:45am


Views: 5199
I still don't understand

The concern with this bill. I just don't see how this is detrimental to NZ's film industry.


Owain
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 12:45am


Views: 4741
Huzzaaaaah!//

 

Middle Earth is New Zealand!

"Question everything, embrace the bad, and hold on to the good."


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 12:50am


Views: 4917
I don't either

I believe much of the hoo-haw in the legislative body was campaigning on both sides because this was a high profile issue.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim?


Melkors_Wrath
Registered User

Oct 29 2010, 12:59am


Views: 4816
never ending headache?

This doesn't sound too reassuring.

Quote
However, Labour MP Charles Chauvel said the bill would create more litigation, not less. It is simply a recipe for further uncertainty and more litigation - the exact opposite of what John Key appears to have promised Warner Bros and Peter Jackson and everybody else.


I wonder what Warner Bros & Co. would do if actors on The Hobbit sued during production.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4286715/Controversial-Hobbit-law-passes


Eruonen
Valinor


Oct 29 2010, 1:43am


Views: 4922
So the unions push for changes and end up worse in the sense

that what they wanted was a change in the independent contractor status and that was shot down, Instead, the independent contractor stutus was strenghthened etc.....if I understand this correctly. Had they worked for a change in the law at a different time and by winning / persuading the public they may have had a better chance..they rolled the dice and lost.

"It clarifies what is already widespread industry practice - that actors, crew members and other production personnel in the film industry who sign on as independent contractors are just that, independent contractors. If they sign on as an employee, they are an employee."


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Oct 29 2010, 1:46am)


Gildor
Rivendell

Oct 29 2010, 2:03am


Views: 5325
They lose recourse

The concern that the Labour and Green parties had was that the bill would eliminate an avenue of recourse should the contractor feel that they were actually an employee and that they therefore deserve the specific protections and benefits of being an employee (not to say that there aren't a different set of benefits for being a contractor, as so eloquently shared by others on these boards).

We've gone round and round on this issue: some on these boards think it's ludicrous to suggest that employees have protections or benefits that make it preferred over contractor status, therefore making the opposition sound irrelevant; while others on these boards think that this avenue of recourse is a valuable way for a worker to seek redress if they are wronged.


Some facts regardless of personal opinion:

1. The bill makes the law less ambiguous: if you're a contractor your a contractor darn it, and if you're an employee you're an employee.
2. The bill does this by disabling people that sign contracts as contractors to later use litigation to claim employee status.

-This was that the Employment Relations Act would be amended to make sure a worker engaged on an independent contract will not be able to go to court and claim employee rights and conditions. (TORN main page)


Moahunter
Rohan

Oct 29 2010, 2:44am


Views: 4887
I'm still puzzled

why this was pushed through under Urgency as if it guaranteed WB or any other production company that there couldn't be any industrial action taken once production had started? The unions had already given their assurances.
Wasn't the main reason that the WB suits came to NZ was to be persuaded that production was safe from any future disruption?
I don't see an individual's quibble about employee or contractor status giving them sleepless nights.


Iolite
The Shire

Oct 29 2010, 3:26am


Views: 4713
Not sure if this explains it any better, but....

The unions didn't want a change in contractor status/law, they simply wanted a collective agreement that would update their working conditions to be more in line with those of overseas actors, such as members of SAG (Screen Actors Guild of America). The actors had no quibbles with the laws around who is deemed a contractor vs an employee.

The whole law clarification/amendment thing is based on a single case that happened in 2005 where a modelmaker took 3Foot6 (= Newline) to court because the nature of the work he had been doing on LOTR was that of an employee rather than a contractor, but he had not received the same benefits that an employee would (e.g. a minimum holiday period each year and other benefits that I must admit to being a little hazy on). This time Warner Brothers were presumably wary that it could happen again, since the Hobbit will be employing contractors for jobs that will have conditions that are probably closer to being an employee than a contractor, e.g. working 5 days every week, set hours every day, for potentially 2-3 years, with equipment provided by the company. That modelmaker was awarded damages of (if I recall correctly) NZ$44,000. Naturally Warner Bros wouldn't want that to happen again and they don't want to have to employ people officialy as employees - they want a contractor to be a contractor if that is what is written in the work contract, regardless of the actual day-to-day nature of the working arrangement.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 29 2010, 4:38am


Views: 5244
I don't think this was about industrial action.

But the industrial action (boycott) paved the way for this. As I understand it, WB asked for 3 things:

1. Assurance of industrial peace. The unions gave them that with their very belated "unconditional assurance". If they'd never called a boycott or lifted it as soon as it was pointed out that their demands were impossible and illegal, the studio would not have gotten involved, and would never have questioned the conditions. BUT, as PJ kept saying, the damage was done within a week - WB was aware and involved. And it was left up for a month, for no apparent reason, which does not inspire confidence and by the end of which the studio was threatening to go elsewhere, which led to meetings in NZ, which gave them the opportunity to make other demands while they were at it. Perfect time to ask for a little extra sweetening of the pot. So they went on to ask for:

2. Tax breaks. They knew they could get a better rate elsewhere, and they'd been willing to settle for the current rate in NZ, but now that they've had to come all the way down there and sort this out....

3. Clarification of employment status. To the mind of an American, the idea of signing a contract as one thing but later being able to declare that you're really something else is vague and baffling. The fact that there had already been a lawsuit involving PJ's company dealing with this, and the ruling flip-flopped a couple times might be seen as an open door for problems in the future. So while we're all sitting here talking, we'd like to clear this one up once and for all......

So some of the arguments I heard during the parliamentary debate are perfectly valid, in that WB undoubtedly took full advantage of the situation and used it to get what they wanted. But it wasn't John Key and it wasn't the protests that created the situation - it was the botched union action. So WB, being much much better at this game, used the industrial action for a little action of their own to gain advantage. Does that make WB the bad guys? It makes them just what they are: a big company that knows how to play hardball without ruining their own game (unions take note). John Key saved some advantage for NZ out of the wreckage, and there probably wasn't much else he could do other than kiss the Hobbit goodbye and be blamed for that. The unions have now lost this battle twice over, in the public eye and in the Parliament.

The following is pure speculation on my part, but I've begun to wonder if the reason NZ Equity went after the Hobbit in the first place was precisely because they thought it was unassailable and untouchable and therefore a safe bet to attack and get publicity out of in their attempt to address problems with the industry as a whole. PJ is such a giant in NZ, I think it never occurred to them that they could actually bring down the production, hence their baffled protests of innocent and relatively minor intentions during the last month. Along comes the head of the Australian union, calling a boycott they apparently never actually asked for(!), for reasons best known to himself, and drops a tanker's worth of gasoline on their little protest flame. Turns out the giant has a weakness after all, which is the need to keep the trust of the studio, the even bigger giant in the cave across the ocean. Before NZ Equity knew it, all attention was focused on the wounded giant, the really huge giant had arrived on the scene waving a big club and demanding apologies and restitution all 'round or else, and any chance of their being heard in the commotion was utterly gone. The urgency derives from the spectacle of a very large giant with a very large club and the mob of public opinion fueled by media attention waving torches and pitchforks. I'm sure it seems rather urgent to make it all go away as quickly as possible. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we found ourselves where we are today.

Silverlode

"Of all faces those of our familiares are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.
Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else [make something new], may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds. The gems all turn into flowers or flames, and you will be warned that all you had (or knew) was dangerous and potent, not really effectively chained, free and wild; no more yours than they were you."
-On Fairy Stories


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Oct 29 2010, 4:40am


Views: 4751
Thanks, Gildor

Thanks for that summary. Very clearly stated. Smile

And, to Moahunter's query: the unions have given their word no action will be taken during production (does anyone know if they put that in writing?), but that doesn't cover what any non-union workers might do. The change in the law defines independent contractors vs. employees for all workers, union or non-union, supposedly to discourage future litigation. Of course, it doesn't actually prevent future litigation, it just makes it a bit harder to find any wiggle room.


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Gildor
Rivendell

Oct 29 2010, 4:49am


Views: 4678
I love...

your last paragraph. That is really close to my own thoughts, and I'm willing to bet, closer to truth than what most have said.

The following is pure speculation on my part, but I've begun to wonder if the reason NZ Equity went after the Hobbit in the first place was precisely because they thought it was unassailable and untouchable and therefore a safe bet to attack and get publicity out of in their attempt to address problems with the industry as a whole. PJ is such a giant in NZ, I think it never occurred to them that they could actually bring down the production, hence their baffled protests of innocent and relatively minor intentions during the last month. Along comes the head of the Australian union, calling a boycott they apparently never actually asked for(!), for reasons best known to himself, and drops a tanker's worth of gasoline on their little protest flame. Turns out the giant has a weakness after all, which is the need to keep the trust of the studio, the even bigger giant in the cave across the ocean. Before NZ Equity knew it, all attention was focused on the wounded giant, the really huge giant had arrived on the scene waving a big club and demanding apologies and restitution all 'round or else, and any chance of their being heard in the commotion was utterly gone. The urgency derives from the spectacle of a very large giant with a very large club and the mob of public opinion fueled by media attention waving torches and pitchforks. I'm sure it seems rather urgent to make it all go away as quickly as possible. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we found ourselves where we are today.


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 29 2010, 4:50am


Views: 4670
Completely agree

I think the legitimate issues that NZ Equity had were swept aside in the furor over the Hobbit possibly leaving New Zealand. Warners called the bluff and won.


Gandalf'sMother
Rohan

Oct 29 2010, 5:41am


Views: 4737
Right...

And, of course, it now provides absolutely no recourse for contractors, who are de facto doing the work of employees, to press for de jure employee status. It is quite a severe rollback of worker rights. A travesty. And a travesty hastily enacted.

Treebeard would not be proud,


Earl
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 29 2010, 6:09am


Views: 4690
You do paint a vivid picture...

... I love how you've put together that last paragraph. Genius! Cool



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Oct 29 2010, 6:40am


Views: 4695
I agree

See here where I posted my concerns about the bill.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Peredhil lover
Valinor


Oct 29 2010, 7:22am


Views: 4649
Your speculation sounds pretty solid to me

Good summary of what has been happening and why. And in the last paragraph, you summarized my feelings and impressions very well, only you put it better than I ever could. I'd not be surprised if you were very close to the mark.



I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.

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SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 29 2010, 7:24am


Views: 4727
In reply to Moahunter


Quote
Wasn't the main reason that the WB suits came to NZ was to be persuaded that production was safe from any future disruption?


In Canada (yes I keep saying that but there are many similarities between CAN and NZ) contractors and temp workers, if they have steady, longer term, exclusive employment with one employer -- along the lines of what VtF describes below -- are not only free to vote on unionization, but depending on the bargaining unit description, they have to be taken on as regular employees in the event of unionization. Not sure if this bill prevents such a thing from happening in NZ film, but it seems, especially in light of VtF's post, that this may be the case. The union may indeed have set themselves back if they are solely responsible for initiating this amendment.



AngryDwarf
The Shire

Oct 29 2010, 7:31am


Views: 4590
Thats what I call backfiring ....

 
Hellen Kelly and Mr. Whipp can really pride themselves about what they achieved!

(*shaking head*)


someone please whip the Whipp!


Moahunter
Rohan

Oct 29 2010, 7:35am


Views: 5282
Employee or contractor.

Tim seems to think that people have, or will have the choice of either working as contractors or employees. I suspect that the choice is either be a contractor or be unemployed.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 29 2010, 7:37am


Views: 4589
Nobody tells me where I can't or can't work. //

 


AngryDwarf
The Shire

Oct 29 2010, 7:45am


Views: 4623
maybe not to the "industry" ...

 
but to the workers and actors therein probably.

If the workers (and actors) are all just "contractors" then they are only employed on a "hire-and-fire" basis.

This makes it cheap and easy for the productions - but probably quite uncomfortable for all the "freelancer" workers/actors who don't really have some reliable employment - only temporary and easy to terminate contracts ...

If the parliament bill really means to stipulate this contractor based employment model, then the unions damaged there cause A LOT and made future prospects and efforts for labor rights and common, unionized standards of employment and workers/actors-rights and conditions much much worse and harder to achieve!

The unions really messed this up a lot!
.


someone please whip the Whipp!


Huan71
Lorien

Oct 29 2010, 10:57am


Views: 5009
Any faith...?

Do you have much faith in big business..(ie..say, Warners) to treat their contractors (or temp workers) well in spite of this bill?


sphdle1
Gondor


Oct 29 2010, 11:55am


Views: 4546
This bill is about stability

In order for these films to remain in NZ, Warner need assurances & security that they won't have labour disputes or legal action during or after the films are made. This new law clarifies it for the courts. And this only applies to movie making.
PJ will pay fair wages and treat people well.

Does it hurt employees of film industy..? No. What does it do to independent contractors? Basically protects Warner from not getting sued by an independent contractor who decides they want employee status. They are just clarifying what is already practiced, but security against what may have happened back when LOTR was made.
I don't see a problem with it.

The big picture. One or two people in the unions take a stick and beat the *#&^% out of a hornets nest, causing Warner to prepare to move production. Jackson pleads to keep movies in NZ, but is handcuffed. Union people get stung and back off. Warner demands security and stability in order to remain in NZ, and something more to cover their lost production, plus like any greedy corporation, if you open up an opportunity for them to negotiate more, they will take it. Had the unions not beat the hornets nest, Warner would never have done this. The government negotiates with Warner to stay, but don't completely cave on tax breaks, etc. They clarify the legal definition of independent contractors and employees for the purpose of the film industry so that Warner feel secure and protected from being sued. The films remain in NZ and pump over a billion into their economy. The fans are extremely elated because of all the holdups and hurdles that they've worried through, and finally they can relax on knowing the films will now get made, so that they can get back to what they do best...discuss who is playing what part, how the movie will begin and end, who will voice Smaug, will a particular part in the book story be in the film, who will be the love interest, etc.

Lessons learned. Don't beat the hornets nest with a stick. Hopefully the local NZ union will learn from this and next time they will work with the right people in a reasonable manner, with more smarts & less bullying tacts of old school unions, and get what they require by earning respect first. Hopefully they do it themselves and not allow neighboring unions to try to control them. I think if done properly, they can achieve fair and reasonable working conditions and protections for workers, but Simon has put them back a few years. So they will have to pick up and start again to rebuild trust and do it with a keen mind.

Lets put this in the past and get on with our normal discussions.


Lord Maegmoth
The Shire


Oct 29 2010, 3:10pm


Views: 4563
Rather Uncomfortable

Regardless of the merits (or lack thereof) of the Union action, this rather heavy-handed response from Warners, and by extension the New Zealand Government, fills me with a sense of dread. I find it distinctly uncomfortable and rather alarming when the government of a sovereign nation bends over backwards to accommodate the vested interests of corporations, with the result being, as in this case, rather hastily, and dare I say, cumbersome legislation dashed off at the last minute. I expect this shall have negative repercussions for years to come, for all involved. This entire business has left a rather grotty taste in my gob.


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 3:23pm


Views: 3965
I agree with this point

To the mind of an American, the idea of signing a contract as one thing but later being able to declare that you're really something else is vague and baffling. The fact that there had already been a lawsuit involving PJ's company dealing with this, and the ruling flip-flopped a couple times might be seen as an open door for problems in the future.

It WAS a cause for concern and I can understand WB or PJ or individual actors being concerned. Legal costs far into the future can be estimated I suppose but not budgeted and thus they can throw a monkey wrench into a company's or production's or an individual's budget planning. The only people that really win in the case of legal ambiguity are the lawyers. The clearer the law is the better it is for those who are trying to abide by it. If I were to consider being an actor in New Zealand, it would be nice to know clearly where I stand legally.


King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim?


Gandalf'sMother
Rohan

Oct 29 2010, 3:56pm


Views: 3931
Actually

I have some faith that they would. But as you must know by now, this change in the law is NOt just about Warners and this film. This affects all film productions conducted in New Zealand. And no, I do NOt have faith that all movie studios will treat their "contractors" in a way that is MORE fair than the law allows. The change in the law completely disincentives such fair treatment.

Now, a studio can draw up a contract for an independent contractor. The contractor signs on. As time passes, it becomes clear that the contractor is a contractor only in name. He or she does the work of an employee, is at the whim of the employer, has to use an employer's facilities, must adhere to the wildly varying and uncertain schedules of the employers, etc (see Voronwe's analysis for more). Yet despite this, the "independent contractor" will have no recourse to support his request to be reclassified as an employee. The studio, his or her employer, will have no incentive to do so because the law gives no incentive for it. And, of course, the contractor will have zero recourse. His or her options in that case are to keep working under these unfavorable conditions, quit, or be fired.

A bad law, constructed hastily under severe pressure, that needs to be changed. The significant split in the final vote is just one indication that this is much fishier than many thought.

We've had our drinks, we've sung our songs, and now its time to let sober analysis determine whether or not the right thing was done.


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 4:26pm


Views: 4030
Let me clarify my position

Pretend I'm a dude living in New Zealand considering a film job. It's nice to know legally where I stand before I make that choice. I can go into the interview, ask what's going to be expected of me and then make my own determination whether or not the job is something I want to take on as either a contractor or an employee. That's all I'm saying. If this leads into a rash of employment where people are being hired as contractors where they weren't being hired as contractors before that would be something worth looking at, but it seems that the "independent contractor" hiring practice in New Zealand for films was the norm anyway. I don't see this law outlawing unions. I don't see it prohibiting citizens getting together and making further changes to the law.

The whole, "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it is a duck" doesn't really fly with me. I've worked side-by-side with people doing the exact same job they're doing but I agreed to do it under a different set of employment rules than they did. I thought and still do think it is fair for me to be held to the agreement I made initially regarding my employment. I have a responsibility as well to enter into agreements and mean it when I say I agree to the contract.

I agree that there should be some kind of recourse in case of employment disputes, but going to court should be a last resort. Clear law makes it easier for citizens to see the flaws in the law and address those flaws legislatively or contractually rather than dragging a dispute through the courts.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim?


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 29 2010, 5:04pm


Views: 3997
Well reasoned. //

 


Jettorex
Lorien


Oct 29 2010, 5:33pm


Views: 4147
other things to consider

Hi all
I responded to Moahunter, but this really just a reply in general. I think this is a good and important discussion and I see everyones point about this.
But a couple of things to point out, in general terms of contractor/employee discussion.

Sometimes, especially in tough financial times, a company will not approve a position to be filled, whether it is a replacement position or a new position, for regular employment, but will approve it to be filled by a contractor. For a community that may already have low levels of employment, it allows for someone to be hired and make an income, as well as still allow the company to increase production.

There are also other possible benefits of being a contractor than a regular employee. Usually, a contractor, in lew of receiving company benefits (ie-health benefits) will be payed more than a regular employee in the same position. This is one reason why a lot of people prefer to be contractors- higher pay (and more options). If someones spouse is a regular employee with a company and receives benefits, again the main one being health insurance, it covers the whole family (so the other spouse does not need it) and they are then bringing in more income to the family as a contractor. Of course someone who is single, may just want the higher pay, and not want the lower pay and benefits for whatever their personal reasons.

Also, in some situations being a contractor can actually protect you more than being a regular employee. As a contractor, you sign a contract with a company for a secific amout of time. The company legally has to pay you for that time frame no matter what. As a regular employee a company can terminate the relationship"at will" (as can the employee) for reduction in work forcei.e. layoffs at any time with compensation ending accordingly.


My main point is that being a contractor has its benefits also, especially for people who might prefer to be a contractor.


- "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."





Huan71
Lorien

Oct 29 2010, 8:44pm


Views: 3847
Just to get things straight...


In Reply To
There are also other possible benefits of being a contractor than a regular employee. Usually, a contractor, in lew of receiving company benefits (ie-health benefits) will be payed more than a regular employee in the same position. This is one reason why a lot of people prefer to be contractors- higher pay (and more options). If someones spouse is a regular employee with a company and receives benefits, again the main one being health insurance, it covers the whole family (so the other spouse does not need it) and they are then bringing in more income to the family as a contractor. Of course someone who is single, may just want the higher pay, and not want the lower pay and benefits for whatever their personal reasons.

My main point is that being a contractor has its benefits also, especially for people who might prefer to be a contractor.



Just want to clarify a few points...
Is there a difference between a temporary worker from, say, an employment agency, and a contractor in the sense that you mean?
I work in a factory (in the UK) and we have LOADS of agency temps (mostly from eastern Europe) and they are paid minimum wage and generally treated like lower class citizens. This is true of a lot of places i've worked where the management just use them to save money and get rid of them ASAP if they want.

I cant help wondering how many of the points you've raised would apply to some lowly paid jobbing actor whose getting bit parts as and when they can?


squire
Half-elven


Oct 29 2010, 10:27pm


Views: 3934
Are contractors more protected than employees, in some ways

As has been pointed out several times here, we draw parallels between our own experiences and the situation in NZ at our own risk. But I wonder if you are correct in saying that independent contractors there have the advantage over employees when it comes to job security:
"As a contractor, you sign a contract with a company for a specific amount of time. The company legally has to pay you for that time frame no matter what. As a regular employee a company can terminate the relationship "at will" (as can the employee) for reduction in work force, i.e. layoffs at any time with compensation ending accordingly."
I have been both an independent contractor and an employee in the film business in NYC. My contracts never specified a set time span (days, weeks, etc.) during which the company had to pay me "no matter what". That would have been madness, given the uncertainties of showbiz. What was specified was my rate of pay, to be paid for work completed according to the schedule and scope of work. It was understood that I could be terminated and paid off for work completed at any time, for non-performance or any other reason - like the film/show going on hiatus or being canceled, etc. Likewise, the amount of time I would work was whatever it took to do what I had contracted to do. That meant: as many hours in the day, or days in the week, as needed, for the straight pay that was written in the contract. Obviously any contractor makes the choice to take the job, but as we all know, in most employment markets that's not really a choice unless you are the world's most famous practitioner of your particular craft.

When I worked as an employee I was generally far better protected in this regard, thanks to my union overtime contract - which forced the producers to consider the lives and energy of their employees before doubling the amount of work for all concerned to make up for errors in scheduling or changes in the script. Employees generally got several weeks notice and/or pay if their employment was terminated due to layoffs. The whole point of a contracted work force is that the contract is written to the advantage of the company, and individual contractors who try to bend it their way have to negotiate individually, which is the weakest way to negotiate.

Companies with a reasonably steady flow of income (like effects houses and scene shops) prefer to use employees, for all the higher costs, so that they can build up a flexible, experienced, and productive team that can work on one or many productions at the same time. Companies with a one-time-only job to do, such as film productions, much prefer their people to be contractors, because the costs are much lower and their freedom to hire and fire on a dime is complete.

As you point out, crafts workers (actors and technicians in the arts) may wish to be either contractors or employees, for any number of personal reasons. But a contractor has no job security at all, and he or she must always bet that the working conditions and professional advancement of each new job will justify the risk of accepting straight pay for unlimited hours.

It has been reported - there's no way to say how accurately - that LotR producer Barry Osborne said at the 2001 Fellowship premiere in Wellington that he wished he had been able to treat more of his people on that film as contractors, so that he could fire them more quickly when he felt he had to. If I understand the point of the new NZ legislation, it closes the door that had been cracked open by the courts, whereby a contractor could be judged an employee based on legal equity, i.e. the inherent nature of the actual work and conditions. The result would seem to be that production companies can now hire only contractors, work them just like employees, and never fear any hint of unionization since NZ law forbids collective bargaining by contractors: a complete defeat for NZ's unions.

But is this a bad thing? That depends entirely on the NZ people concerned, of course.



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Peredhil lover
Valinor


Oct 30 2010, 1:39pm


Views: 3854
My thoughts


Quote
It has been reported - there's no way to say how accurately - that LotR producer Barry Osborne said at the 2001 Fellowship premiere in Wellington that he wished he had been able to treat more of his people on that film as contractors, so that he could fire them more quickly when he felt he had to.

That quote has left me wondering - if he really said that, was that for financial reasons, meaning so they didn't need to get paid any day longer than they are needed for the making of the film? Or had it to do with their own behaviour? I can't even pretend to have any idea how that is handled otherwhere, but in my own work place we have had a number of people who were long-time employees who could not be simply fired. Some of these knew that and used that to their advantage; they were, to put it very mildly, resting on their laurels and barely doing anything. In fact, in some of these cases it bordered on refusal to work, and the other colleagues had to manage their work in addition to their own to keep the business running. We regretted all that they couldn't just be fired on the spot.

So I wonder if there weren't just some bad eggs like that among the employees? In *that* case I could understand Barry's complaint. (Mind you, I'm not saying that I agree with being able to fire everyone at will, because I don't think that is good, either. But there may be cases that are the exception to the rule) We'll probably never know, but as always, there are two sides to the argument.



I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.

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