Global boycott started in August

October 27th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Martin Kay at Stuff reports:

Sir today released a letter which he said proved the actors’ unions had already decided to blacklist before requesting a conversation with him.

The letter, from The International Federation of Actors, was sent to the US directors of production company 3 Foot 7 Ltd on August 17, warning that the federation had instructed its members no to act in the film until the producers had entered into bargaining with the union.

Sir Peter said that letter was the first time he had been made aware of the issue.

“It was the first time a meeting was ever requested and it was clear from the letter they had already voted to blacklist us, before even asking for one conversation with me,” he said.

“I am sick and tired of hearing [union NZ Actors] Equity say ‘All we ever wanted was a meeting’, because it’s disingenuous. They fail to add that from the outset, they had a gun to our head.”

“It just made me incredibly angry, I wondered how can a union behave like this? How could Simon Whipp [Australian union representative from the Media, Entertainment & Artists' Alliance, or ] initiate an international strike action against our film with no prior vote from the Kiwi membership?”

Sir Peter said he decided to release the letter after NZ Actors Equity circulated an email to its members yesterday saying all it sought was to “meet with the production and discuss the conditions under which performers would be engaged”.

“It amazes me that the executive officer of NZ Actor’s Equity can walk roughshod over our industry and the union itself fails to adhere to the most basic principles of democratic process,” he said.

“NZ Equity has given Simon Whipp absolute power and no one seems to care if he abuses it. He can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Kiwis, jeopardise a huge financial investment to this country and he’s not held accountable. It’s unbelievable.”

So much for “We just wanted to talk”. What is also fascinating is there was no local vote in favour of a boycott it seems – Whipp instituted it presumably on his own authority, or the authority of his Australian overlords?

Sadly it looks like we will all pay the price for Mr Whipp’s actions, and end up having to give a greater subsidy to Warners. And there is absolutely no way at all that would have happened without the MEAA’s antics, as everything was set to start without disruption.

One could of course cut our nose off to spite our face, and refuse to do a sweetener to Warners. Part of me thinks we should, but really the price too pay would be far too high – we would not be losing one film, but an entire industry. I’d rather not having thousands more people unemployed and receiving welfare payments.

In a perfect world, the Government could just send MEAA a bill for the additional sweetener to Warners. They are the ones who incurred it.

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96 Responses to “Global boycott started in August”

  1. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Australia recently had her first Saint canonised. I think Simon Whipp should also be canonised – in a different way.

    Also, first

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  2. cauld (47 comments) says:

    You jest about sending MEAA the bill.

    But, I wonder if there is scope for liquidated damages under the Employment Relations Act for breach of the good faith bargaining provisions.

    The nexus between the Crown and Actors Equity is probably a bit tenuous, but, it’s clearly not bargaining in good faith to behave as the parties have done.

    At a minimum I suggest it would be worth getting a court decleration as to the breach of good faith.

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  3. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Axe outragous fortune as a savings offset.

    Adze I’ll take the job on.

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  4. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly seems to have this quaint notion that the requirement for good-faith bargaining applies only to the employer. It is going to take a long, long time before the CTU and the trade union movement in general has any credibility whatsoever.

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  5. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Good.

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  6. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Robyn Malcolm and Helen Kelly should be recipients of some sort of bill surely?
    Union, Helen Kelly creditable?
    not for a very long long time and that goes for Malcolm too.

    I for one don’t watch Malcolm in her drivel but why not ascertain their involvement and hold their feet to the fire until the hobbit (providing it is made here) is a success and profitable.

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  7. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    It is all too convenient for Jackson to focus on the events of August. However, the question is what provoked the predictable union boycott response? It’s taken a while to play out, and had to be stoked a couple times to keep the flames burning, but the money guys have now got everything they wanted. I sincerely congratuate them. Brilliant game play. I sense that poor Peter Jackson has been used by them as badly as the poor union schmucks.

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Too convienient to look at the actual timeline instead of the bullshit being spun by the unions and we’re suposed to ignore Robyn Malcoms repeated lies “Tom”?

    Piss off noddy.

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  9. TCrwdb (242 comments) says:

    Tom, you need to stop smoking that stuff dude….

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  10. Right of way is Way of Right (1,122 comments) says:

    Righto Helen, how are you going to squirm out of this one?

    Simon Whipp was bribed by Warner Brothers?

    30% above SAG agreed minimum pay rates wasn’t enough?

    Workers don’t actually know enough to decide if they want to be employees or contractors?

    What’s the bullshit excuse now Helen?

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  11. Monty (978 comments) says:

    Do not ever forget Unions = Labour

    They unions are proven scum. They are only concerned about their own self interest. What is more is that Goff and the rest of the Labour MPs are proving themselves to be spineless because they have not uttered a word about the disgraceful tactics that have been used.

    Funny thing is that if the movie is saved (and we hope it is) then John Key will become the hero and union / Labour will be vilified for the scum they are.

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  12. Yvette (2,823 comments) says:

    The last figure I saw for the budget total [expanding with each report] was $ 670 million.

    The Government subsidy appears to be $ 65 million [although I thought it was supposed to be 15%]

    Other countries were said to be offering twice the NZ subsidy –
    another $ 65 m to off set the $ 100 m already spent here and which can’t be taken with a move overseas.

    So I figure that gives $ 35 m against our higher dollar.

    It would be nice to know what Warner Bros is asking.

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  13. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    JK said what they were asking “wasn’t in the tens of millions” so one would assume he meant a 9 figure sum.

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  14. Positan (390 comments) says:

    @ Monty – “Funny thing is that if the movie is saved (and we hope it is) then John Key will become the hero and union / Labour will be vilified for the scum they are.”

    Yes it’s an absolutely wonderful situation, even the converse being that, if the movie is lost, the unions and Labour will be even more vilified and even more greatly castigated.

    Quite literally, Key can’t lose – and the best part of the entire thing is that the unions (and Labour) have done all this damage to themselves, entirely by themselves.

    No wonder Goff shot-off to Australia when he did – he’ll claim he was nowhere about and couldn’t possibly have been involved. Further, didn’t Mallard look tired and past it on TV? He, at least, knows it’s the end.

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  15. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    Fact is, if the deal was a 100% subsidy for the making of the film, it would still be worth it. The government would still collect a whole bunch in GST during the production, income tax off those working on the production and, best of all, the New Zealand fillim industry would CONTINUE TO EXIST, despite the best efforts of the unions and their useful idiots.

    Of course the bill should be sent to Simon Whipp, Komrade Kelly and talentless, noisy Robyn Malcolm. Split it 3 ways, to make it fair.

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  16. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    In a perfect world we would ban Simon Whipp from ever visiting New Zealand!

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  17. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    This is a perfect opportunity to have a solid debate about the relevance of unions in the modern context of labor relationships.
    I’d argue that its time to fundamentally revisit that issue, also given that it is nowadays much easier for employees to exchange information in order to determine joint interests, while it is also simpler for employers to disseminate information. The way Richard Taylor interacted with his employees in the current manner may provide an example.

    All in all it may well be that unions are largely outdated and amenable to be replaced by some other structure, one that is not as pervious to be hi-jacked by political manipulation, as has been the bane of the union movement.

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  18. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    DRHILL, criminal misschief conviction would do it.

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  19. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    adze,

    I suspect the reference to not in the 10’s of millions is with respect to the total incentives, not the extra that would be required to keep the film.

    Still, we could be pressed with a demand for up to $65m additional at the moment, which JK has signalled we won’t accede to.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if we get to retain it for another $20m-30m. As people such as Brian Smaller have pointed out, that is not money we are handing out as such; it is an amount that we would have taken in the ideal world but have agreed not to take in the first place. So our balancing of the govt books won’t even notice it, while the country still benefits from the money pumped into our economy – with a number of indirect tax spin offs from that (think workers paying tax and spending their income, which stimulates the economy, provides employment and so on.)

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  20. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    DRHILL & Murray, Yes it would, or MEAA could be proscribed and he could be banned from NZ as a member of a terrorist organisation!

    Actually, while we’re at it we should also add EPMU, CTU and members of Robyn Malcolm’s address book to that list!

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  21. mjwilknz (605 comments) says:

    One suspects JK will do a deal with Warners that, amongst other subsidy-type things, makes actors and film staff like real estate agents. Let’s hope that, after this is all over, he backs it up with a debate about modifying NZ’s labour laws so that there’s no room for a judicial interpretation that a contract that says a person is a contractor doesn’t actually mean it!

    Would that mean Helen, Robyn and Simon would be forever known as the unionists who bought freedom of (labour) contract back to NZ?

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  22. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Surely there is some law against economic sabotage in this country.

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  23. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    Offshore, thats the way I look at it.
    Core tax on the production is irrelevant. It disappoints me that people are bitching about any tax relief without looking at the bigger financial picture.
    What is relevant both now and into the future will be GST paid on services provided by contractors, suppliers etc paye for those who want to be employed rather than self employed.
    What is also important is the on-going benefit of the movies being made here. The tourism effects of the LOTR is still felt even though it is almost a decade since the first was made.
    The effect of the Hobbit on tourism and associated employment will be similar.

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  24. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    mjwilknz let’s hope it also bumps into the law of unintended consequences and squashes the IRD’s interpretation that irrespective of status, where one organisation provides >=80% of a person’s income they are deemed that person’s employer!

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  25. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Tom,

    “It is all too convenient for Jackson to focus on the events of August. However, the question is what provoked the predictable union boycott response?”

    Give it up.

    It is not convenient at all. It is when it happened – what is more it is when the actions of others happened without his knowledge, so you can’t blame him or the studio for the timing.

    It has been clearly established as to what created this whole problem. You have read it on this site a number of times and through the facts (facts Tom, not the speculation) reported in the media. To remind you:

    – the union sought to establish industry-wide terms and conditions by negotiating with a party who could not enter such negotiations
    – it is telling that the union refused to meet with the party who could – SPADA
    – the union also sought to establish a precedent where all workers – including contractors – would have to contract under a collective agreement. That is coercive and amounts to compulsory unionism by stealth
    – PJ pointed the unions to SPADA
    – the unions continued to refuse to negotiate with SPADA and launched their nuclear boycott bomb

    So what provoked the bomb? The unions refusal to enter into negotiations with the only appropriate party for their demands provoked the launch. Self-provocation Tom.

    The conspiracy theory that the studios were orchestrating this all along just doesn’t hold any water. The unions and they alone are responsible for this. I agree with DPF – send them the bill.

    BTW – the denizen of fair mindedness and balanced commentary – Luc Hansen – noted a few weeks ago that conspiracy theorists are intellectually bankrupt. Bear that in mind.

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  26. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    If we have to pay more, it will pale in comparison to what taxpayers would be paying out in benefits to the 1000’s of people no longer working over the coming years.

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  27. bka (135 comments) says:

    Tom, why is PJ concentrating on events in August? Simon Bennett commenting at Hard News posts an email sent this week from Equity to its members, http://tinyurl.com/2ga43s6 :

    “All NZ Equity sought was to meet with the production and discuss the
    conditions under which performers would be engaged. The request was in the first instance made privately, without the glare of the media on August 17. ”

    The the union itself backs up what PJ is saying, that the Aug 17 letter informing of the boycott was the first he heard of the request to talk on terms and conditions.

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  28. Pharmachick (235 comments) says:

    Ummm,
    I know I’m inviting scorn/controversy here … but I’m gonna ask anyway, because I think it may be a valid legal argument (based on precedent), albeit drawing a long bow …

    If a private citizen can be convicted of “treason” for throwing an axe through the window of the electoral office of the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark (Prime Minister of NZ) …. i.e. said person’s choice and means of protest significantly endangered the sovereign nation of NZ (which is a definition of treason).

    And since the Rt. Hon. John Key is currently in significant national negotiations with the U.S. Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton.

    Then, by virtue of:
    1) Violating NZ law by not negotiating in good faith, an act that subsequently had lead to an imperilment of NZ’s economic and sovereign stability
    2) Forcing the Rt. Hon. John Key to address this “Industrial dispute” whilst in the midst of sensitive and vital international negotiations with the US (potentially to the detriment of NZ’d interest),
    3) Crossing international borders in order to foment such mischief

    Well, if even 2 out of 3 of these premises are true, it is possible to prosecute Simon Whipp for espionage

    Whilst this may be tongue in cheek, S. Whipp has a lot to answer for (not least of which, he forced me to agree with Paul Holmes for the first time in living memory!)

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  29. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    I would have told them to shove it too bka.

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  30. jackp (668 comments) says:

    If Outrageous Fortune was subsidized to the tone of 48 million, how much money did the series bring in to New Zealand from sponsors(advertisers), syndicated rights abroad, etc.?

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  31. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    Where’s Ward-Leyland?

    I bet she’s busy at the shredding machine hiding the evidence that all the contracts her husband had signed were non-union, and non-compliant with the Pink Book.

    Silence is golden.

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  32. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    I truly hope that the Simon Whipp bloke gets into a lot of serious and debilitating problems sometime really soon. And nothing trivial.

    I still await Goffs stand on all of this. The silence is deafening. if not Goff, what about Little. Our Leftie media appear to have no vigour to want to chase that down. Curious? I am.

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  33. Inky_the_Red (760 comments) says:

    Is this really an issue? Only 40 people protested in Cathedral Square on Monday while several thousand attended Union organised family day in Halswell to celebrate the gains workers have won (and some lost like the 40 hour week).

    Are two films that important? Is Peter Jackson or Simon Whipp that important?

    The Limo taking Warners executive looked like a scene from a movie. The kind of Hollywood movie where you see foreign businessmen backing a corrupt administration or failing regime in Latin America or Africa. Is this really the scene we want seen in the world?

    We should get over, if we need to change labour laws to support investment then we look elsewhere for jobs. Jobs that raise NZ standard of living not lower it.

    Yes Kelly has stuffed up. she should probably consider resigning her CTU role. She should definitely have pulled back earlier.

    Soon someone will claim conspiracy. The government bought back Knighthoods, gave one to Peter Jackson. In return Jackson found a reason to help the government introduce draconian measures against all New Zealand workers.

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  34. Roflcopter (463 comments) says:

    Inky, it’s more than 2 films… there’s approx another 4 or 5 movies from other production companies waiting on the outcome of all this employment dispute.

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  35. bka (135 comments) says:

    Today on the radio Goff was emphasising other things on this issue, but did mention “…a single Australian trade unionist who made, I think, a fundamental misjudgment in the decision that he took…”

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  36. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Inky_the_red advocates for jobs in New Zealand to be lost to off-shore …

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  37. jams (48 comments) says:

    JackP, Outrageous Fortune was cancelled because it failed to get the kind of money from syndication that was expected.

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  38. Inky_the_Red (760 comments) says:

    Outrageous Fortune may well have been cancelled because they ran out of ideas. The final serious is quite lame. The early series had a quality not in the current series

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  39. trout (939 comments) says:

    Most of the lefties have gone quiet but a residual few are still scraping the bottom of the barrel in a futile endeavour to justify the Hobbit debacle. Long may they continue because it only serves to reinforce the idea that Unions of the old style are obsolete; they have ceased to be promoters of workers interests in favour of becoming vehicles for the politically ambitious. Led by power hungry nobodies who crave the limelight while pretending to be altruistic. NZ can ill afford the damage these people do.

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  40. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Shonkey is treading on a mine field with this one. If he gives WB a greater sweetener, then other foreign companies looking to invest in NZ will well and truly want their palms greased. This is dangerous territory, why should foreign companies get a tax break beyond the breaks afforded to citizens of NZ, quite frankly it sucks. I know the benefits brought by the hobbit movie well be huge but their is a moral side to this argument. As a taxpayer of some years to this country I ask, why should I subsidize a foreign company that will cut and run when it gets it’s thirty pieces of silver. I’ll beat any deal worked between WB and the government will remain secret, to publicly announce further tax breaks will be like honey to a bear to those who see NZ as an easy mark.

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  41. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    “why should I subsidize a foreign company that will cut and run ” – well that’s actually one reason to give them reduced tax rates. They come here, spend the money, pay reduced taxes, and then bugger off again. They don’t stick around to use infrastructure and services that taxes pay for.

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  42. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Fair enough RightNow but how far does one “reduced rates”. I’m not against at what the government is trying to do I’m just worried it will set a precedent .

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  43. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    Side Show Bob, how about reducing them down to zero? The benefits in terms of GST and income tax for the NZ domiciled people and companies, as well as making NZ a bloody attractive place to make a movie, would all be worth it.

    Plus, the bill for the opportunity cost could be sent to the CTU!

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  44. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Thanks Offshore-kiwi well take a read.

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  45. ben (2,380 comments) says:

    This is not the first time the New Zealand government has allowed itself to be held up. Witness the $200 million Toll extracted from Michael Cullen shortly before the 2008 election. Toll knew Cullen was desperate to seal the deal before the election, and so held up the New Zealand taxpayer by taking advantage of Cullen’s power and hunger to retain it.

    Why has this come about? First because the government subsidises a major industry. Second, because the issue is big enough to affect voting. Third, because, in this case, unions are granted exemptions from the competition law everybody else has to live by, giving them credibility when they threaten to hold up investors, which is exactly what they threatened to do here.

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  46. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Yeah sounds good Offshore, so why not take it further. Why not tax rates at 10%, would it not have the same effect but effect the whole population not just those in the movies. If it’s good enough for the goose then why not the gander?

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  47. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    Agreed, Side Show. Income tax rates at 10%, with consumption tax (GST) at 30%. Encourage people to earn more and spend less (don’t we have a savings problem in this country?)

    And Ben, they’re two completely different things. Cullen knew his corrupt regime were on their way out the door, and he was desperate to renationalise rail in order to saddle the incoming administration with the burden. It was nothing to do with trying to save an industry, or encourage further investment, it was venality and corruption at their worst.

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  48. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    side show bob (2,794) Says:
    October 27th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Shonkey is treading on a mine field with this one. If he gives WB a greater sweetener, then other foreign companies looking to invest in NZ will well and truly want their palms greased.

    Yep!

    Which is why I’m very pleased it is John Key negotiating.

    Were it DPF’s girlfriend, the previous PM, it would be “OK Mr Warner, Can I be in it? How much will you pay the Labour Party?”

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  49. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Hey great we agree now we just have to convince the rest of NZ, can’t see that happening EVER. I’m afraid socialism is now a religion in NZ and anything this radical would be just to much for the sheeple to handle. But those with the greatest hatred of this would be of course our fearless leaders, they would very quickly lose their relevance, people would soon realise they can be masters of their own destines and not have to rely on the state.

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  50. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly as quoted in the Herald:

    “This Government is getting angsty about selling land to foreigners – well we can’t sell laws to foreigners either. We are a sovereign nation.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10683457

    I’m sure she Phil Goff/Labour right? She can’t be two faced and a liar at the same time can she?

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  51. Offshore_Kiwi (500 comments) says:

    Can’t have that now, can we. It would mean less incentive for bennies to keep bludging, and less cash for the bro-ocracy. Expect a knock on the door any time now. It will be the SIS and/or DPS with your summons for sedition :)

    But back to the topic of how the unions tried (and, I hope, failed) to fuck New Zealand’s film industry …

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  52. Pongo (372 comments) says:

    How about putting a large levy on union contributions to cover the extra subsidy that is the cost to NZ from the idiot unions actions.

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  53. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Yeah good idea Pongo, I wish you luck. It would do these swine good to be held accountable, I won’t be holding my breath though.

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  54. jackp (668 comments) says:

    # jams (18) Says:
    October 27th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    JackP, Outrageous Fortune was cancelled because it failed to get the kind of money from syndication that was expected.

    Thanks, Jam. If it was such a disaster, why are these 80 union members crying about subsidies that the government is giving the hobbit when it brings in “positive cash flow”.. (Thought I’d throw that one in there as a code because it would go over the lefties heads when they read this.) I thought socialism is the redistribution of wealth, but where is the wealth coming from when there is none to be had?!

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  55. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    So, in the twisted, hate ridden, ideologically driven Tory mind, the union imposing a boycott to force a meeting is holding the country to ransom, yet a Hollywood studio threatening to pull a movie unless the law is changed in its favour and a bundle of cash is handed over is just good business, and to be welcomed? You guys are soft in the head. Tony Soprano would be impressed with these Warner boys.

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  56. J Mex (190 comments) says:

    Except, Tom, that Warners were quite happy shooting a movie here until the Union “negotiated” by starting with a global boycott.

    The analogy you are stretching for is:

    Actors happily employed and working until Warners locks them all out of their jobs trying to force them to accept a new set of conditions that will affect every actor in NZ.

    Bit different huh?

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  57. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Hooray! John Key to the rescue!

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  58. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Tom Gould: So, in the twisted, hate ridden, ideologically driven Tory mind, the union imposing a boycott to force a meeting is holding the country to ransom, yet a Hollywood studio threatening to pull a movie unless the law is changed in its favour and a bundle of cash is handed over is just good business, and to be welcomed? You guys are soft in the head. Tony Soprano would be impressed with these Warner boys.

    Warner Bros wouldn’t be here discussing increasing tax incentives and/or moving the filming elsewhere if it wasn’t for some greedy fucken unionists!

    Those at fault for this colossal fuck up are:

    – Simon Whipp: Most Machiavellian of all! In his attempt to fuck the NZ film industry in the hope of bringing those films to Australia, he forgot that Hollywood hasn’t forgotten the last time he got involved with them. And they want a date with them like they need a freebie from a HIV infected hooker! Lets not forget that the first thing he did was initiate the GLOBAL BOYCOTT! Hardly good faith bargaining wouldn’t you say eh TOM?

    – Helen Kelly: Dumbest fucken union rep in the worlds history! What kind of moron tries to get better terms and conditions for actors/actresses by fucking up the very industry they work in? Doesn’t that mean there are NO FUCKEN CONDITIONS CAUSE THERE ARE NO FUCKEN ACTING JOBS???????? This chick is made even dumber, by the fact she was duped by Simon Whipp to do her bidding!!!! What the hell was she thinking? Is pleasing some union wank from Australia more important than protecting the jobs work working Kiwi’s? Obviously not!

    – Robyn Malcolm: Well why would she give a shit about her fellow actors/actresses – she’s already rich right? Plus a sure fire candidate for the Greens, though I’m not sure even they would want to touch her after this episode. How does it fell Robyn? Your actions have a high chance of putting actors and actresses out of work!

    But NOOOOOOO Tom, you think its all the big bad Warner’s execs who are to blame. I would say that I can’t think of a bigger bloody idiot than you, but then I remember how I described Helen Kelly.

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  59. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Tom
    It is you who are twisted and obsessed about bad robber baron conspiracies. You’ve rabbitted on insessantly on this blog and have been refuted and rebutted at every turn. The facts, the timeline, the sequencing of this entire thing has been spelled out to you backed by numerous independent sources and still you cling to the great WB conspiracy. This matter is so simple its as plain as the nose on your face – simple enough for the vast majority of ordinary NZers to see it for what it is. An aggressive Aussie actors union saw a window of opportunity to impose collective bargaining on its recalcitrant neighbour in NZ. Knowing the sensitivity of the negotiations over the Hobbit and knowing that Warners and the rest might possibly see the threat of ongoing workforce disruption as not a good thing (a wise and normal business assessment of risk), they tried to blackmail Jackson into giving up the independent contractor model thus allowing AE and MEAA the power and control over the bouyant NZ film industry that they have been coveting now for decades. It was a naked power play calibrated carefully to achieve what every Mafia thug has done for decades “Nice little business you have there – shame you might have to loose it”. Its the time honoured shakedown tactic used by thugs and extortionists for centuries.

    You know Tom the Employment Relations Act has at its centre piece the notion of GOOD FAITH bargaining. Certainly the Act requires that of employers explicitly and implicitly of the unions. In most negotiations of this type, they normally always begin in good faith. Sure they can deteriorate and strikes/lockouts are part of the ramp of negotiations. In the global and highly mobile world of movie acting and production, a global boycott is the kiss of instant death. The equipment, creative skills and actors are 100% mobile and the entire industry can literally flee a country overnight . Thus to threaten an industry destroying boycott as your OPENING negotiating gambit was provocative in the extreme and beyond foolishness because the backlash has become so swift and total.

    MEAA and their supporters in NZ could not persuade the bulk of NZ actors and other industry workers to adopt their policy of collective employment agreements vs independent contracts by fair means nor by the merits of the policy they promoted so they chose foul means. Hollywood’s studio moguls thought this Hobbit deal was but a signature away – the prospect of coming to NZ and prompting a law change was not on the minds of even the most devious and hard nosed of them. But faced with the uncertainty of global boycott (which are very rare in the industry) what right minded businessman in any industry let alone the ruthless denizons of Hollywood would put up with such a massive ramp up in uncertainty. It’s tantamount to crying rape and then at the trial of the accused finally the accuser recants and says sorry I didnt really mean to hurt – you just cant unscramble that omelette.

    The union movement and in particular the CTU whose ideological blinkers overrode common sense by wading in here has been hoist by their own petard.

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  60. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Yeah, who would have thought having an ex business suit as a PM would come in handy :D :D :D

    Shot, John!

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  61. Magnanomis (138 comments) says:

    The precioussss is ours

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/hobbit+movies+be+made+new+zealand

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  62. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    The smiling assassin, ace negotiator John Key caves in to every demand of the sly and clever Hollywood moguls, who set this gig up from the get go. What a spineless whimp. They will be laughing out loud and popping the champagne. I bet they have never dealt with such a gutless, craven pack of dickheads. And I bet they are praying that Jackson enlists Key to negotiate his next movie deal. Jackson will be paying the studio for the pleasure of making them a movie. Unbelievable. A perfect example of country mouse meets city cat.

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  63. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Somewhere, misery needs your company Tom!

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  64. Oscars Grouchy Mum (83 comments) says:

    Good news – shame that the Unions have cost the taxpayer more money. But the best outcome for New Zealand and an industry that is in an excellent position to positively promote our wonderful nation.

    Well done John Key and Peter Jackson.

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  65. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Oh Tom, you were doing so well earlier.

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  66. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    This is hilarious.

    Can anyone explain the difference between the actors threatening a boycott before discussions and Warner threatening a pull out before discussions? Where was the good faith in THAT, Kiwi?

    Anyone with any knowledge of negotiations knows this sort of pre-talk posturing is very common.

    No-one here could negotiate their way out of peper bag.

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  67. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    So the union haters are out in force.

    But, silly me, conservatives don’t hate unions, do they?

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  68. Positan (390 comments) says:

    @Tom Gould: “so, in the twisted, hate ridden, ideologically driven Tory mind … ”

    Every idiotic, emotional inclination of the dogma-ridden Left is thus articulated. Only the Left could spew such venom-laden, vituperative nonsense – the Right is far more concerned with getting things done – achieving – not squandering mental and physical energies on such wasted, unproductive rubbish.

    You have to feel sorry for people like Tom – what he feels and perceives is as good as it’s ever going to get for him. As an unashamed advocate of the Centre-Right – pity is all I ever feel for those so self-trapped in all the nihilistic horrors of their self-deprived existence.

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  69. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Maggie

    The last two comments of yours are too facile for words.

    Sometimes its just time to STFU.

    And yes, I hate fucking unions, they caused inordinant amounts of problems for me when I was younger and wanting to work, old selfish communist pricks like Helen Kelly’s father cost me money personally and the country millions.

    To align yourself with the union movement in this country is to show either you want to become a Labour MP or you are still too immature to form cognative thought processors. ( being immature and unable to think for yourself has always been a prerequsite for joining the labour party anyway)

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  70. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Maggies,

    “Anyone with any knowledge of negotiations knows this sort of pre-talk posturing is very common. ”

    That sentiment illustrates precisely why we got into this mess in the first place.

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  71. Put it away (2,880 comments) says:

    Staggeringly, Kelly has been accusing the government of machiavellian plots to use the hobbit as leverage to get what they want. For fuck’s sake. If the left ever developed a sense of irony they would just wither away and die.

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  72. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    Tom Gould Go away and come back when your I Q exceeds your age

    You should wait for it to get closer to his shoe size first.

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  73. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Avalon, I thought you were vaguely rational, I won’t make that mistake again. If the best you can do is pick up a typo, please don’t bother in future.

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  74. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Pauleastbay, if you hate fucking unions, then stop doing it.

    But your response is typical.

    “Forty years ago a unionist made my sister pregnant and then wouldn’t marry her. So I’ve hated unions ever since”

    OR, perhaps “A unionist once wrote “Scab” on my grandfather’s fence during the 1951 waterfront lockout. They’re all communists and should be put away.”

    Irrational, absolutely. Myopic, yeah. Bitter, definitely. But it exists.

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  75. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Negotiation 101 for bhudson et al.

    “Frequently, prior to negotiation, one or both of the parties may take quite belligerent positions to make a point to the other. The key is to take note of the action, file it away, but do not raise it during negotiations. The fact that the other party is meeting you is evidence of its desire to settle pecefully.

    Above all, don’t allow yourself to make concessions based on panic. Sometimes it is necessary to call the other party’s bluff, don’t be afraid to do it.”

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  76. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Negotiation 101 for Maggie et stupid.

    “Frequently, prior to negotiation, one or both of the parties may take quite belligerent positions to make a point to the other. The key is to ensure that your opponent knows that you are actually engaging in negotiations with them. This is especially important if there is no way your demands can be legally met.

    Of course, it should go without saying that a belligerent position will mostly mean posturing and vociferous rhetoric. Not real world actions, which result in real world ramifications, that could detrimentally affect the other party and your own bargaining position. A belligerent position certainly does not mean that you take actions as if the negotiations had already started, been running for a long time, and had reached an impasse. That would be stupid. I mean, what sort of retard would give notice of the intent to begin negotiations by employing their “nuclear option”? Maybe an Australian. Lucky we are in New Zealand then, eh?

    Above all, don’t allow yourself to get so full of a sense of your own self importance that you think your position is stronger than it really is. Sometimes it is necessary to realise that the only reasons you are getting work as an actor on a major motion picture being shot in New Zealand is (1) because the director is from New Zealand and he likes it here, (2) your accent is still novel to the rest of the world as they have no idea where New Zealand is and little intention of wasting their time finding out, and (3) because you are cheaper than US talent. That last point may actually be more important than actors union members have the capacity to understand, as evidenced by their attempts to price themselves out of their own jobs.

    Sometimes it is necessary to call the other party’s bluff, don’t be afraid to do it. But remember, you can only call a bluff that the other party has actually made. Recall, ‘calling the other party’s bluff before you have entered negotiations’, was a topic covered in last semesters Destroying Your Own Credibility 101.

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  77. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    A little internal consistency might go a long way in helping you understand basic negotiating tactics, Maggie.

    “If the best you can do is pick up a typo, please don’t bother in future.”

    Followed up by this in the very next post…

    “… if you hate fucking unions, then stop doing it.”

    Maybe a little introspection will give you the answer to your question as well.

    “Can anyone explain the difference between the actors threatening a boycott before discussions and Warner threatening a pull out before discussions?”

    As I dont think you are emotionally capable of that introspection I might as well answer the question.

    One difference is the boycott was in place before negotiations (and that means before the other party even knew what the demands really were, let alone had an opportunity to respond) and while the threat to pull out was also before negotiations started it was only done in response to the actions of the Union. And the only reason negotiations hadnt started before the threat to pull out was made was because the Union did not agree to meet the movie makers.

    As for people here being union haters, well, what’s to hate? A small number of selfish people band together to extract money from another party through intimidation and threats to destroy their ability to do business. Again, what’s to hate?

    A group of people already employed in an industry group together to ensure that they can prevent other people from entering that industry, and in doing so improve their own wealth at the expense of the opportunity of others to gain wealth. What’s to hate?

    What is there to hate about organisations that are proud of a history that includes rioting, extortion, and the shutting down of an entire economy at their whim? Or organisations that campaign to reduce the quality of services their members are paid to provide? Or organisations that try to get laws passed that would require people not in a Union but working in an industry in which a Union operated to automatically be paid less and work longer hours?

    No, you are right, hating Unions is obviously irrational.

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  78. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    Oh my God, the union wanted producers to enter into bargaining with them. Next the union will be wanting employers to adhere to minimum working conditions, the cheeky buggers.

    David, have you always had an irrational hatred and fear of unions?

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  79. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    > I’d rather not having thousands more people unemployed and receiving welfare payments.

    So you’re admitting that the government’s economic policy isn’t working?

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  80. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    But, silly me, conservatives don’t hate unions, do they?

    I do. I was once a union rep. I learnt all my hate at union branch meetings.

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  81. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Maggie,

    I don’t know what fairy tale textbook you took that quote from, but let me share a fundamental negotiation premise with you.

    Never assume you know the other party’s true position or desires, nor what they are prepared to do in response. To do so is nothing short of a mix of both arrogance and ignorance.

    Maggie, I have been involved in commercial negotiations for years. I have seen this happen time and again. The problem the unions had here is that they ignored that principle and found that the studio was using a different playbook from the one they expected. (It is for a very similar reason that political pundits and parties cannot handle John Key – he doesn’t operate like a traditional politician. He doesn’t behave the way they anticipate.)

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  82. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    bhudson said: “John Key – he doesn’t operate like a traditional politician. He doesn’t behave the way they anticipate.”

    But he is another “traditional politician” in the sense that Key lies, breaks electoral promises, and betrays his own words when necessary. Run of the smill stuff for the PM.

    What differentiates Key is his pragmatism and readiness to trade principles, i.e., his dealing and bartering with the racist Maori Party to secure its political support.

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  83. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Kimble says (when verbosity is translated):

    Whether an action is acceptable is dependent on who does it, when it is a union it is wrong, when it is an employer it is right.

    Warners threat to pull out was a legitimate negotiating tactic. So was the black list. Both appear to have worked.

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  84. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Of course, those union haters no doubt enjoy their sick leave, their holidays and the day off on Labour Day,

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  85. badmac (136 comments) says:

    Maggie, you are beyond belief, you select small parts of what people say to quote back selectively supporting your position.
    If you learn anything from this whole episode, learn when to stop digging, Labor knows when to keep its mouth shut, why can’t you learn the same thing. You won’t get far if you don’t know when to shut up.

    The Union Blacklisted BEFORE a negotiation took place, BEFORE the other side even knew what was going on. That is not negotiation that is Blackmail. WB reacted with an equal threat that they were actually capable of doing, in fact probably wanted to do but the PJ factor was pushing them to NZ rather than a more profitable country.

    The Unions job was to consult with its members (they didn’t), reach a consensus on the position its members wanted. Set out that position to the correct agency for negotiation (SPADA), then take whatever action was necessary to negotiate the best outcome for their members.

    Blacklisting the Hobbit and send a letter after the event to WB (not SPADA or PJ) is not what the paid up Union members wanted, which they would know if they bothered to ask them.

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  86. badmac (136 comments) says:

    Maggie (93) Says:
    October 28th, 2010 at 8:53 am
    Of course, those union haters no doubt enjoy their sick leave, their holidays and the day off on Labour Day.

    ———————————————————-
    For the record. I worked Labour day while my staff had time off in the Sun. I constantly work 80-100 hour weeks to keep the business open and my staff employed (non of them have exceeded 40 hours this year!). I haven’t actually been paid a cent in the last 12 months (In fact I have invested $100k against my mortgage trying to turn the business around), I actually think its time to shut to doors and give up the Non business that I run. The staff will find other work as they are nice capable people. Thanks for reminding me that it is easier to take from others than to do the hard yards yourself.

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  87. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Hey Maggie, not only do you misunderstand what I was saying, you do so to a degree that shows your cognitive dissonance runs deep enough to be considered a cancer.

    There was one action then several REactions. The Union declared a boycott, in response the Studio said they migth up stakes, in response the government took action to make sure they stayed.

    The Studio didnt announce they were leaving because they intended to negotiate with the government. They said they would leave in response to the Unions inept “negotiation” strategy.

    Like, duh, obviously.

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  88. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Bevan, even if what you say is true, does that mean that Warner Bros picking up taxpayers’ money meant suddenly the unions wasn’t inept any more? The company has gained nothing in an industrial sense out of getting the extra money.

    badmac, my heart bleeds for you. I don’t ask you to work “80-100 hour weeks”, that’s your choice. Yes, the black list was blackmail. So was the threat to leave. Both worked. Sets an interesting precedent for any further dealings between the two bodies.

    My criticism is not with groups threatening blackmail. It is with a government that gives in, particularly when there was no need.

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  89. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Bevan, even if what you say is true, does that mean that Warner Bros picking up taxpayers’ money meant suddenly the unions wasn’t inept any more? The company has gained nothing in an industrial sense out of getting the extra money.

    Maggie, I haven’t posted on this topic since last night, if you are going to respond to something I have posted, please have the decency to quote what you are responding to, cause quite frankly I’m having difficulty establishing the relevance of what you have posted.

    1. No, the unions are STILL inept. Unless of course the entire objective was to get the government to offer more incentives to WB for the Hobbit movies, and a reduction in employment laws as they see them. For that to be the case, you’d have to buy into the whole conspiracy theory crap that WB are behind this from the beginning – but for that to happen, you would also have to believe that Simon Whipp and Helen Kelly were working for Warner’s this whole time….

    2. Actually they will gain something: Industrial certainty – they will be more confident that the half a billion dollar investment is safe in NZ again. Which ironically they actually had before MEAA/NZAE/CTU initiated a global boycott based on their illegal demand.

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  90. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Of course, those union haters no doubt enjoy their sick leave, their holidays and the day off on Labour Day,

    Well I for one am enjoying the vastly superior benefits of being an Independent Contractor. I set my hourly rates + terms and conditions based on the role in question, taking into account sick and annual leave. Funnily enough I still manage to pull in a rather comfortable income, as well as enjoy at least six weeks holiday each year….

    Never been more financially secure to be honest.

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  91. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Maggie,

    “…the black list was blackmail. So was the threat to leave. Both worked.”

    Kindly explain just how the blacklist actually achieved what it was intended to? Did the union achieve a collective contract across all workers on the production? Did they get to rewrite industry-wide terms and conditions? did they in fact get any of their demands at all?

    [If you choose to respond please do not forget that SPADA had been trying to meet for years and that residuals were already part of the offer.]

    The blacklist backfired – if you classify that as having worked, the unions are in even bigger trouble than they imagined

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