John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law”
Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – preface
1. The “Hobbit Law”
On 20 October 2010, Peter Jackson released this statement to the media,
“Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.”
It was the opening shot of a public war-of-words between Jackson and his camp, and Actor’s Equity. An industrial dispute had been elevated to DefCon One, and things were about to ‘go nuclear‘.
Almost overnight, a mood of hysteria gripped the country; we were about to lose ‘Our Precious‘ movies to Eastern Europe, Mongolia, or Timbuktu.
Public panic reached levels unseen since the 1981 Springbok Tour, or the satanic child abuse-ritual stories of the early 199os. There were patriotic street marches (flaming torches were considered but rejected because of OSH concerns.) Union officials were harassed in public; vilified; and threatened with death. A well-known actress – popular up till this point – considered leaving for Australia after receiving death threats, because of her pro-Union stance.
It was the nastier side of New Zealand’s collective psyche which we’ve come to be familiar with. We do ‘mob hysteria‘ very well.
John Key and National would have none of it, of course. Dear Leader acted with authoritarian style not seen outside ex-Soviet republics, African, and Middle East dictatorships.
As the Dominion Post reported,
“ The Hobbit dispute was resolved after Warner Bros executives jetted into New Zealand for a meeting with Government ministers at Mr Key’s official Wellington residence, Premier House.
After two days of tense days of talks with Warner Bros bosses, who were chauffeured around Wellington in Crown limousines, the Government agreed to a raft of measures including a $20 million tax break to keep the two Hobbit movies in New Zealand.
An agreement to change New Zealand’s employment laws clinched the deal after studio bosses and Jackson threatened to move production off-shore over a stoush with the actors union. Labour lawswere were [subsequently amended]. “
The labour law that the Dompost piece referred to was the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill which made film industry workers independent contractors by default – thereby changing the definition in employment legislation of what constitutes an “employee”.
Even if the nature of your employment mirrors that of an employee with a boss who determines your hours of on-site work; supplies all your tools and work materials; dictates your workplace requirements, including meal breaks – your employer can still treat you legally as a “contractor”.
A worker under these conditions has all the obligations of an employee – but none of the rights. That same worker may be deemed a “self employed contractor” – but has none of the usual independence of a contractor.
A worker in this “limbo” has had all his/her security of employment; minimum wages; holidays; and right to collective bargaining stripped away.
In effect, for the first time in our democracy, a government has legislated away a workers right to choose. They no longer have any choice in the matter.
All done at the stroke of a pen. No consultation. It was all decided for you, whether you wanted it or not. Only a totalitarian, One Party, regime could match such dictatorial powers.
The “Hobbit Law” took precisely two days from First Reading to Royal Assent. An Olympic record in law-making.
By 21 December 2010 – two months after Jackson had sent the entire nation into a spin with his first press release - an email dated 18 October, to Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee, revealed a startling new picture,
“There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit”.
“What Warners requires for The Hobbit is the certainty of a stable employment environment and the ability to conduct its business in such as way that it feels its $500 million investment is as secure as possible.”
Peter Jackson and John Key knew precisely how to pull this country’s strings and make workers and the public dance to their tune. They managed to con workers to demand losing their own rights as employees. Well played, Mr Jackson, Mr Key.
So precisely, how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s promises?
Next chaper: 2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period
Tech Dirt: The Hobbit Took $120M From Kiwi Taxpayers – Maybe They Should Own The Rights (5 Dec 2012)
Fairfax Media: To save regular earth, kill Hobbit subsidies (6 Dec 2012)
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $18.40/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
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~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Being nice to each other
- 2014 – Ongoing jobless tally
- Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA
- Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)
- I have seen one future, and it is bleak
- Guest Author: An Open Letter to John Key – Why should the PM be any different?
- Letter to the editor – Key paints a dirty, great, big bullseye on our country!
- Letter to the editor – when a Terror Alert really was needed!
- Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)
- Letter to the editor – John Key should lead by example
- Letter to the editor – Daleks, Kim Jong-un, Elvis, and Roger Douglas
- Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)
- Letter to the editor – The New Vietnam; who is first?
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- 2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date
- Letter to the editor – From a warm beach in Hawaii, With Love
- Letter to the editor – Key’s one true portfolio remains…
- Letter to the Editor – An own-goal from a particularly stupid National Supporter
- A Study in Party Stability
- Deep thought vs Deep prejudice
- Letter to the editor – “An Alarmed World” according to The Listener
- No More. The Left Falls.
- Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over
- Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe (v2)
- Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe
- The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed
- She saw John Key on TV and decided to vote!
- Voting turnout affected by bad weather?
- Teflon Man No More
- It’s official: ACT’s Jamie Whyte is several-sandwiches-and-a-salad short of a picnic
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