Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Anatomy of a Shambles

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  • Tinshed,

    As I continue to try to make sense of this fiasco, I ask myself, "Who has done more in their chosen field, who has achieved the most and who has done most for New Zealand?". I look at the list of protagonists: Helen Kelly, Robyn Malcolm, Simon Whipp or Peter Jackson? The answer is clear to me and given the claim and counter-claim, I can only but side with Peter Jackson on this. The names of the remaining three are now mud and the opprobrium that is, and will continue to be, heaped upon them is entirely justified. Most of us do not want to "union bash" or get personal, but these three between have enormous damage to New Zealand and its film industry. I'm mad as hell about it and hope that all three reap the appropriate consequences for their actions. One conniving Australian and two naive New Zealanders - what damage have they wrought upon us?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    @Beejay:

    Russell, you begin with an excellent summary, but miss the crucial point that Equity had a legal opinion (Simpson Grierson) that organisations of 50 or more could negotiate non-binding recommendations on behalf of a group of independent contractors.

    Russell hasn't missed that at all, but with all due respect to the fine folks at Simpson Grierson an opinion is nothing more than that. Irish Equity went out and did the hard yards of lobbying and building support for legislation, which trumps an opinion with no legal standing (and might not withstand being tested in the courts).

    I'd also assume that Simpson Grierson would very carefully frame and qualify such an opinion. I've got to assume, because AFAIK NZ Equity hasn't publicly released the full text.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    People that want change to Employment Law are not necromancers who want the ECA 1991 and to set the zombie loose.

    In response to Neil Morrison’s "having AE wander aimlessly around from one half-formulated position to another like none of this matters is, well, I can't think of the words."

    The wrods that spring to my mind are a phuck up and a total shambles.

    The law change needs to be made to stop union officers going feral - Making reference to Ross Mason's comments - the NZAE ask members to wait for a recommendation and then, without making the recommendation or consulting the members and getting a valid resolution, call for a blacklist.

    There is no real consequence for an officer of a union who has not followed “process” or the law. There is limited provision for there to be consequences though they are not enforced, regardless of whether you have a Lab or Nat govt.

    That lack of consequence in the wider sense can extend to and include a union running a loan scheme with no disclosure contrary to credit legislation, failing to file annual accounts under the Incorporated Societies Act, union officers being elected to office while being ineligible to stand for election or be a members of that union, union officers acting in bad faith and misleading members and also union executive initiating industrial action without a resolution of the membership which is what we have with the Hobbit.

    I can't see that making the union executive more accountable at law to the membership and strengthening the position of the membership as the uppermost authority in the affairs of a union is releasing a zombie. It is a matter of stopping the executive from failing to consult with the members they represent and phucking things ups.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd be looking to the corporate sector first if you want to make officers more accountable. Wonder how Mark Bryer's paltry community service sentence is going from his mansion in Sydney?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    Russell, you begin with an excellent summary, but miss the crucial point that Equity had a legal opinion (Simpson Grierson) that organisations of 50 or more could negotiate non-binding recommendations on behalf of a group of independent contractors.

    They could even call it a book and paint it pink...

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    And that from someone who's husband makes in NZ soft-core porn for the US trailer trash market.

    Whether or not one likes Mr Tappert's shows or not, he's been pumping money into a business that has been employing Kiwi actors and crews for the better part of a couple of decades now. I don't have a lot of patience with people who want to pretend Peter Jackson has made no contribution to New Zealand's film industry because he doesn't make films they personally approve of, and I can't say it impresses me when directed at Tappert's work.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    (3) is incoherent for independent contractors. It also clearly seeks to make the production a closed union shop.

    Which is an interesting goal; if I'm reading the numbers presented here, AE can muster the confidence of less than a tenth of the working actors in New Zealand. One wonders whether it's as much about muscling the 90% they can't persuade to join to pay dues in some other way...

    (Also, while I'm pleased that mandatory access for unions to employees is part of the legal landscape in New Zealand, I am most displeased by the notion AE are pushing that you have to join a union to be allowed to get a job. I doubt many supporters of the CTU would be thrilled if employers started demanding employees started joining and paying money to National Party affiliated organisations. Freedom of association cuts both ways...)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    "Simply that face-to-face dialogue, with no purpose other than dialogue, is extremely effective at stopping things spiralling out-of-control unnecessarily when formal communications don't seem to be getting anywhere."

    face to face dialogue with RM and JWL has shown them to be uncertain of what they want and uncertain about the truth. Those two with a little help managed to have this spiral out of control.

    Jackson all along was giving them good advice. RM and JWL have shown themselves to be completely immune to that, I don't see how PJ can be held reponsible for their failings.

    They say they just want to sit down and talk but everytime I've seen them sit down and talk they have done their cause a diservice. They can't say what they want. They have no idea of the consequnces of what they are doing. They change their story. Why on earth would anyone with the pressure of directing and producing such a project want anything to do with them.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Whether or not one likes Mr Tappert's shows or not, he's been pumping money into a business that has been employing Kiwi actors and crews for the better part of a couple of decades now.

    And it would have been no skin off Tappert's arse to shut down Spartacus, say "shit happens", move back to La-La-Land with the wife and kids and start work on the next project. It's really awful about Andy Whitfield's cancer coming out of remission, but Tappert would be the first to admit that cancelling the show rather than a risky re-cast of the lead was a very serious option.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Whether or not one likes Mr Tappert's shows or not...

    I never said I didn't like his programmes or didn't see the benefit they have had, I just said what the are. It's not some elitist judgement, rather pointing out the rather curious choices JWL has made.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Sacha, Bryer's community service has nothing to do with the Hobbit shambles.

    I am interested, what is the problem that you have with a union executive being held to account to the membership?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Radio NZ's The Panel yesterday - discussion starts at 3m55, Russell joins in at 7m30, goes for about 14m more (streaming or 10MB MP3)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Dexter if you can't see the linkage to the point you introduced to the discussion then I'd suggest that's your shortcoming, not mine.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    while I'm at it, I know a couple of people who auditioned for Sparticus, before it was well know what it's main selling point would be, and were quite taken aback when they were asked to strip down.

    Now that could have been an issue AE could have worked on. But didn't. WTF as they say.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    It's not some elitist judgement, rather pointing out the rather curious choices JWL has made.

    I certainly don't disagree with that point - indeed, it's one I made earlier in a more roundabout way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    It's not some elitist judgement

    "Trailer trash" = kind of an elitist judgement.

    (My half-brother's first house was a trailer. They're often the only things working-class people in America can afford.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Lengthy discussion forum on TheatreReview is interesting for actor viewpoints as the situation unfolds over the last month.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    well there be accountability afoot in nz he he he

    the former NZ EA choose to bypass democratic process so now democratic process is seeking to bypass them

    a new actors union is forming somewhere on facebook. E-mails are flowing and numbers are growing.

    the loyalty driven flash mob strikes back and I wish them all the best.

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Jaymax,

    Jackson all along was giving them good advice. RM and JWL have shown themselves to be completely immune to that, I don't see how PJ can be held responsible for their failings.

    Please re-read my earlier post, the bit where I said who was responsible (ie: not PJ). I'm just saying PJ's stature meant he was the one person who could have informally got the necessary NZ people together in a convivial atmosphere to cool things down back in mid-August.

    Why on earth would anyone with the pressure of directing and producing such a project want anything to do with them.

    Really? Seriously? You're asking that after everything that's happened? To protect the project, from, I dunno, a worldwide union blacklisting maybe.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Don't seem to be able to link to individual posts in that TheatreReview forum, but this one from actor Ian Hughes is another example of a negotiable condition:

    2 Oct 2010, 04:23 PM

    I was in LOTR and my voice was dubbed out but only out of 2 of the 3 scenes I was in. I was never told and found out while I was sitting in the theatre (infact they wouldn’t tell me if i was in the movie or not!) . I was a bit shocked and surprised – I do a lot of voice work and my voice is a big part of my business – I would have liked to have been asked.

    And was it my contract ? no – I didn’t know what I didn’t know – and this goes back to the problem of the onus of analysing and enacting contracts falls to the sole trader actors and their agents. A job that in cases like the Hobbit we just don’t have the resources to do let alone police.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    I think the saddest part of that whole thread are the people who believe that the international unions will back them.

    I bet the Irish actors' union are falling over themselves to nick the work. "100-150 English-speaking unions" indeed.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Unfortunately, other acting unions around the world had already reacted to a "don't work" order -- a boycott -- signed by Simon Whipp, the MEAA official you're contending is irrelevant.

    Yes, I realise that. MEAA came in after the lack of response from SPADA. But my point was, why is NZAE keeping the name while all around everyone else was aiming at MEAA? As far as I can tell the boycott and "don't work" order came from outside NZ.

    I can understand people telling me that NZAE and MEAA are the same (now) but what is the motive to keep the NZAE name to the fore?? Making them look like goodguys for us looney NZers? Making it look like it is a NZ operation?

    The response from SAG and the other unions seems a case "that's the way we word these things when we don't like what we see happening". Different culture maybe.

    And just to make sure, I went through all the info on NZAE since the Auckland meeting and the only reference to any "don't work" notice is last Thursday when they "1. Lift the "do not work" order". I'm buggered if I can find where NZAE (specifically) on their website at least, say they put one in.

    It's saturday night, Labour Weekend. I'm pulling my ignorant head in (it's now even more full of shit), turning into a Hobbit and spending the rest of it enjoying the Union holiday in celebration of the 8 hour day. :-)

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1588 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    MEAA came in after the lack of response from SPADA.

    Nice try

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Helen Kelly posts a timeline of her involvement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    There's the rub - See Nick Shand above - the former NZ EA choose to bypass democratic process so now democratic process is seeking to bypass them.

    That is classic in the best and most wicked snese of he word.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

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