SPADA v MEAA

October 29th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I don’t know if anyone out there actually still believes a word the MEAA or CTU has said re The Hobbit dispute, so this is probably flogging a dead horse. But the rebuttal of the MEAA newsletter by SPADA is so good, that it deserves a bigger audience:

1. MEAA Position:

“NZ Equity has also sought to bargain with the screen producers association SPADA. For a variety of reasons none of these attempts have been successful.”

SPADA Response:

It is surprising that these ‘variety of reasons’ are not specified in their newsletter to members. …

SPADA initially offered to meet with NZ Actors’ Equity in February 2009 to discuss the Code of Practice for the Engagement of Cast in the New Zealand Screen Production Industry dated 6 June 2005 (and more commonly known as the “Pink Book”). Subsequently SPADA offered to meet on a non agenda basis to have an open discussion in good faith.

However NZ Actors’ Equity would only agree to meet to discuss an industry wide agreement containing conditions of employment no less favourable than those in Australia to be negotiated by the MEAA. This was unworkable given SPADA, as has been confirmed by the Attorney General, cannot legally enter into a union negotiated agreement.

So MEAA all along has refused to meet or negotiate unless an illegal demand was met.

2. MEAA Position:

“All NZ Equity sought was to meet with the production and discuss the conditions under which performers would be engaged.”

SPADA Response:

All the polite chit chat about having a ‘cup of tea’ is a fantasy. The boycott (because that’s exactly what it was), began back in June. Well before the ‘cup of tea’ suggestions.

At a meeting believed to be n in June 2010, the FIA resolved as follows:

Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical film The Hobbit until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for production in New Zealand providing for satisfactory terms and conditions for all performers employed on the productions.”

At this point the production had not issued any final performer’s contracts. Accordingly, neither MEAA nor FIA had any reason to believe that performers wouldn’t be contracted on “satisfactory terms and conditions”. They were prepared to boycott without any justification. Those terms and conditions have subsequently been found to be satisfactory by the NZ actors cast in roles.

So they resolved to have a boycott in June 2010, prior to even seeing a contract. And Labour and the unions dare talk about good faith bargaining.

3. MEAA Position:

“The Board formed the view that in the interests of harmony between cast and crew and for the sake of the NZ screen industry the commitments made in discussions with SPADA were significant enough to justify ending the dispute with The Hobbit.”

SPADA response:

What SPADA agreed recently is exactly what we’ve been trying to achieve for some time. What SPADA “committed to” is to meet. What MEAA have achieved is what they would have got if they had sat down with us over 18 months.

The inability admit they were wrong is staggering.

7. MEAA Position:

“In the past the conditions set out in the Pink Book have been completely disregarded by producers.”

SPADA Response:

Not true and no examples have ever been given by union.

This claim has been repeated by Labour friendly journalists, and others. Has anyone asked MEAA to cite examples? If not, why not?

9. MEAA Position:

“Our actions in no way jeopardised the filming of The Hobbit in New Zealand.”

SPADA Response:

Patently not true… and not believed by the NZ public as per public opinion polls

Simon Whipp would make a good President for Iran – I could just see him denying there ever was a Holocaust. He seems to be able to say the most false things with conviction.

11. MEAA Position:

“New Zealand performers approached this issue in a calm and professional manner and have every reason to be extremely proud of themselves.”

Oh that is just too funny by far. They should do stand up comedy!

Tags: , ,