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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Parliament Passes Hobbit Bill
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Elentari03
Rivendell

Oct 29 2010, 12:43am

Post #1 of 33 (4040 views)
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Parliament Passes Hobbit Bill Can't Post

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

Post #2 of 33 (3471 views)
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I still don't understand [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #3 of 33 (3158 views)
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Huzzaaaaah!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Middle Earth is New Zealand!

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


Tim
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 12:50am

Post #4 of 33 (3248 views)
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I don't either [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #5 of 33 (3177 views)
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never ending headache? [In reply to] Can't Post

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
Tol Eressea


Oct 29 2010, 1:43am

Post #6 of 33 (3303 views)
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So the unions push for changes and end up worse in the sense [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #7 of 33 (3369 views)
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They lose recourse [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #8 of 33 (3242 views)
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I'm still puzzled [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #9 of 33 (3112 views)
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Not sure if this explains it any better, but.... [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #10 of 33 (3491 views)
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I don't think this was about industrial action. [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #11 of 33 (3151 views)
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Thanks, Gildor [In reply to] Can't Post

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.


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase



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Gildor
Rivendell

Oct 29 2010, 4:49am

Post #12 of 33 (3047 views)
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I love... [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #13 of 33 (3057 views)
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Completely agree [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #14 of 33 (3124 views)
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Right... [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #15 of 33 (3078 views)
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You do paint a vivid picture... [In reply to] Can't Post

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



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Oct 29 2010, 6:40am

Post #16 of 33 (3093 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #17 of 33 (3060 views)
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Your speculation sounds pretty solid to me [In reply to] Can't Post

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.

TORn Link Collection
TORn Travelling Journal website


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 29 2010, 7:24am

Post #18 of 33 (3113 views)
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In reply to Moahunter [In reply to] Can't Post


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

Post #19 of 33 (2996 views)
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Thats what I call backfiring .... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
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

Post #20 of 33 (3219 views)
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Employee or contractor. [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #21 of 33 (2961 views)
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Nobody tells me where I can't or can't work. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


AngryDwarf
The Shire

Oct 29 2010, 7:45am

Post #22 of 33 (3026 views)
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maybe not to the "industry" ... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
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

Post #23 of 33 (3106 views)
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Any faith...? [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #24 of 33 (2964 views)
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This bill is about stability [In reply to] Can't Post

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

Post #25 of 33 (2934 views)
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Rather Uncomfortable [In reply to] Can't Post

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.

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