Red Alert

Bring down the curtain

Posted by on September 23rd, 2011

There appears to be an on-going vendetta against workers in New Zealand’s entertainment industry.

Sure, the NActs are happy to line up beside local artists at events like the Rugby World Cup, but their actions are spelling doom for many of our most talented.

First, there was the decree from on high that all NZ entertainment workers are “contractors” and have no right to challenge their status under New Zealand law. There was the shameful spectacle of our government depriving New Zealand workers of rights in order to bow to Warners and Co., along with the ugly denunciation of anyone who dared speak out against this move as “hobbit-haters”.

Now, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced that New Zealand has cleared the way for overseas actors and musicians to come here whenever they feel like it, even if it’s at the expense of New Zealand entertainment workers. His policy changes mean that those representing actors, musicians and other entertainment workers no longer have to be consulted when overseas acts want to come here. Understandably, the Screen Directors Guild of NZ is expressing concern about the implications of the moves to alter the process for the entry of temporary entertainment industry workers into New Zealand. They say it is potentially damaging to the local screen and entertainment industries.

My old union, the Musicians’ Union did its best to promote New Zealand music, but they never stood in the way of overseas performances unless it meant New Zealand musos would be disadvantaged. It was their job to stand up for New Zealand talent and they did it responsibly.

Labour’s spokesperson for Immigration, Ruth Dyson, and Arts and Culture spokesperson Steve Chadwick say the change could mean that roles in local productions could be filled with overseas performers and that these pressures, along with strife in Public Broadcasting and local playhouses, such as Downstage, put at risk many New Zealand careers.

John Key’s justification for changing the laws around the Hobbit was to protect New Zealand jobs, yet his Minister of Immigration has opened the door for all and sundry.

Our proud record of cultivating NZ identity through the Arts, fostered under the leadership of Helen Clark, is faltering.

Who hates who now?

26 Responses to “Bring down the curtain”

  1. Tigger says:

    Pure punishment for daring to stand up against the big Hobbit bullies and a sop to overseas studios.

  2. hellonearthis says:

    Don’t forget that it also include computer game programmers as well as actors.

  3. Draco T Bastard says:

    They say it is potentially damaging to the local screen and entertainment industries.

    That’s the whole point – to destroy competition so that the major (foreign) film makers can get even better profits. Of course, it’ll also destroy culture creation but National really don’t care about that.

  4. John W says:

    John Key talks with a forked tongue again.

    Do NZ actors get reciprocal freedom of entry to the US – I think not.

    John Key was also backing Microsoft a few months ago. Now his buddy is moving to block all other software systems by maneuvering mother board manufacturers to lock into Microsoft.

    Openness and honesty in Keys world, is for fools, charity for the rich.

    Key is not working for us.

  5. darrenw says:

    Or NZ actors could stand up and get the roles based on their own talent and ability, delivering a quality product. At the end of the day the producers want to make films that people will watch so will want the best talent. It’s not like they will outsource to Manila for talent because it’s cheaper. How about backing our talent to be competitive internationally instead of assuming it needs archaic protectionist policies??

  6. Oliver I says:

    FYI – anyone who is economically literate ops for being a contractor over an employee.

  7. pedrovsky says:

    So is it Darien’s policy that NZ actors like Temuera, Keisha C-H, Parquin, Sam Neil, Robyn Malcolm, shouldn’t be allowed to go overseas cos that would be taking jobs from foreign actors in those countries? What about if we need a evil foreign baddie? do we cast a kiwi with a dodgy accent? Really- this is some morph between a Elizabethan-men-only-on-stage combined with something befitting Pyonyang trade policy!!??!! Agree with Darrenw –kiwis should win on ability not protectionism.

  8. marsman says:

    @ darrenw. NZ actors already stand up and get the roles based on their own talent and ability, delivering a quality product. What is your point apart from waffly spin?

  9. Nick K says:

    I’ve just mentioned this to my wife, who worked in TV & Film production for almost 20 yrs. He reaction was: “thank goodness, they used to drive us bonkers.”

    The “they” is the unionists that held up productions while they stuffed around with actor contracts.

  10. tbird says:

    NZ actors such as [name suppressed] and Rhys Darby? Musicians such as [name suppressed], J. Williams and Annabelle Fay?

    We already give these guys so much taxpayer money, only for them to support laws making it illegal to be accused of downloading an MP3!

    What’s with the support of these guys? They’re overpaid as it is, and and soon as they’re able they ditch the country to make more $$$. Labour has lost its way.

  11. Dan says:

    Darien, film workers are perfectly entitled to enter into employment contracts as employees, the decree does nothing to those whose employers agree to take them on as employees. Let’s not forget that such a relationship also means they pay with-holding tax at 20 cents instead of at a higher marginal rate like the rest of us 😛

  12. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    Dan, it was actually the other way around, a long serving contractor who was laid off sued Weta and won.
    They said even though we agreed to be a contractor and were paid that way we were actually an employee ( because they worked many years at the same job and werent actually independent). This way they got extra rights of an employee.

    The special law, rushed through, made all film employees contractors in spite of the way they worked. Now obviously if you work on this film one month and another one next month and maybe nothing at all for a month are you are an independent contractor, no problems.

    But many people are studio based and not really independent and they now have no rights like other continuous employees

  13. darrenw says:

    @Marsman my point is that if the across are good enough they will get the jobs and don’t need protectionist policies blocking overseas talent. Pretty simple really

    Of course it is useful for Labour to have a few actors say nice things about them – anything to help the polls!

  14. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    darrenw, other countries have highly protectionist policies for actors and musicians. Usually you would want a reciprocal arrangement so good Kiwis can work overseas .

  15. Tim says:

    @Darrenw – if it really were in NZ actors’ interests to be stripped of their employment rights and engaged as contractors, why would they say nice things about Labour for trying to protect their status as employees?

    Like ghost says, this is kow-towing to Peter Jackson’s corporate funders embarrassed by the Bryce v Three-Foot-Six balls-up.

    Unfortunately, the tory commenters on this thread would rather ignore centuries (and centuries) of legal protection for contracts of service vs contracts for services so that they can owe their servants nothing, and have decided that actors shouldn’t enjoy the protection of the ERA.

    Let’s all marginalise and exploit people brave enough to work in extremely competitive/niche industries!

  16. Dan says:

    Ghost – I am familiar with the case in question, but the new law does not prohibit film makers from signing contracts as employees.

    “The Bill provides that the exclusion in new paragraph (d) of Section 6(1) of the Act from the definition of employee does not apply “if the person is a party to, or covered by, an employment agreement that provides that the person is an employee” (Clause 4(2) inserting new subsection (1A) into Section 6(1) of the Act).”

  17. darrenw says:

    Unfortunately, the tory commenters on this thread would rather ignore centuries (and centuries) of legal protection for contracts of service vs contracts for services

    Just because we have always done it does not mean we should keep doing it! The definition if insanity is up keep doing the same thing expecting a different result. Sounds like Labour (un)employment policy.

  18. Draco T Bastard says:

    But darrenw we did it the way that NAct want to do it for centuries before hand and we had far worse poverty. In fact, over the last 3 decades as those 19th century policies have been put back in place our level of poverty has increased.

    As you say, doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity – so why do you RWNJs keep insisting that we go back to doing things in a way that has been proven as a failure?

  19. Uncle Hulun says:

    You are trolling and this is a final warning. Clare

  20. @Dan – you are right that someone can be employed as an employee – what’s changed is that video and film production workers who are employed as contractors under a bogus arrangement cannot challenge that – unlike every other worker in New Zealand.

    Interesting article in the NZ Herald today where “Dr Coleman said changes were needed as issues with the existing process, which had been in place for 20 years, were putting overseas investments in the New Zealand screen industry at risk.”

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    Every other job in New Zealand is subjected to market testing under our immigration policies, on the basis of Kiwis first. The only exception is where an employer is accredited, which means they guarantee to pay a certain amount. On the basis of some of the arguments on this post we should be opening up all industries to the same policy when overseas companies say they won’t invest.

  21. darrenw says:

    Darien your naivety is flooding through now. Films rely on the screen talent in them to sell them so they are profitable – unlike a manufactured item or piece of technology which is sold on the basis of what it will do for you. To correctly line up with your argument we would not import any components to make products from overseas but make lesser quality ones here – risking the overall quality of the exportable product.

  22. Darien Fentin says:

    @darrenw do you don’t agree with the kiwis first policy for immigration? Be careful with your answer!

  23. Oliver I says:

    So the law changes say that actors don’t need the permission of the union if they are coming into NZ for under 14 days to do some acting? – so what?

  24. Bea says:

    “if it really were in NZ actors’ interests to be stripped of their employment rights and engaged as contractors, why would they say nice things about Labour for trying to protect their status as employees?”

    During the hobbit fracas, the actors that were acting as spokespeople didn’t come across as the sharpest knives in the drawer. I expect they say nice things because they’re befuddled.

    If I was an actor I’d be in favour of the clarity provided by the new law – you’re either definitely an employee or definitely a contractor. IRD can’t come back and challenge those deductions you’ve claimed for.