Hobbit In Labour, NZ Shafted

The irony may not be lost on some.

Today a number of Keep the Hobbit in NZ protest marches were held in New Zealand, one message being “hey Warner we’re all Bros here“.

Today New Zealand rolled over and prostituted itself to studio bosses, jeopardised its already dwindling employment rights, handed the government their consent to put the boot on the neck of its unions, eroded its rights at work and lost its self respect in the process.

Today, coincidentally, also happens to be Labour Day – not only a national holiday in New Zealand but also a day for New Zealanders to commemorate their hard won rights, and a reminder of how tough things are for New Zealand’s present day population.

Tough times for Labour Day (press release, NZ Council of Trade Unions, emphasis ours)

Despite Labour Day commemorating New Zealanders winning the right to an eight hour working day, many workers are again facing tough times according to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

In 1840, carpenter Samuel Parnell successfully argued the case that the standard working day should be no more than eight hours, ensuring that New Zealand was among the first countries in the world to make such an advance for workers.

Peter Conway, CTU Secretary, says: “The commemoration of Labour Day this year comes at a difficult time for New Zealand workers. There are 256,000 jobless and over 102,000 workers needing additional work, while many others are toiling for long hours on low rates of pay just to make ends meet”.

The 2006 Census showed that 415,641 people were working 50 hours or more each week.

Peter Conway said that workers are facing tough times. “Kiwi workers and their families are bearing the brunt of the GST increase, received only miserly tax cuts for the lowest paid and are struggling to get reasonable wage increases.

Last week, 22,000 workers expressed their strong opposition to the mounting attacks on work rights,” Conway said. “This includes reducing ACC entitlements, cutting industry training, restricting entitlements to meal breaks, removing the right to appeal unfair dismissal in the first few months at work, reducing access to union advice and requiring workers to provide a doctors certificate for only one day off work”.

These changes are unnecessary, unworkable and unfair.

Peter Conway said that, while many workers will enjoy a day off on Labour Day, many others will be at work in essential services, retail and hospitality.

Canterbury workers who along with everyone else in that region, have had a very stressful time from the earthquakes, are getting together at a picnic to celebrate Labour Day. Joining them will be Kirk Torrance, star of New Zealand Television series, Outrageous Fortune. Source

Whilst people power is out there on the streets, ‘winning back The Hobbit for New Zealand,’ the government can slide in and quietly offer increased tax incentives and changes to employment legislation to sweeten the deal for offshore studio bosses.

Then, when the announcement is made that The Hobbit is staying in New Zealand, the government can triumphantly proclaim that they and the people have achieved a decisive victory over the unions and use that to justify more changes to employment legislation. Everyone goes home happy.

By the time the NZ public realises it’s been well and truly shafted it will be too late.

Read also:

New Zealanders fight for film biz (Variety 25 Oct 2010)

“…Hobbit” exec producer and director Peter Jackson is on record in support of larger subsidies. In his review of the New Zealand Film Commission, he concluded that they’re crucial to films being made there. He has personal experience to back that up. His own film “The Lovely Bones” lost part of its shoot to the U.S. The country also lost its exclusive claim on Narnia when large parts of “Prince Caspian” decamped for Eastern Europe.

At the time, Jackson said that people thought New Zealand had “some magical quality” that attracted movies, “but it’s going to come down to the dollars.”…

Jackson himself has said the industry will be “stuffed” if it loses “The Hobbit.” But even if New Zealand loses the location shoot in this production, Jackson’s Weta will likely retain the post-production and the pre-production money…” More here

New Zealand should not prostitute itself for Hobbit

…Yesterday Otago University employment law specialist professor Paul Roth criticised the Government’s suggestion that the law could be changed to suit the producers of the Hobbit movies.

He told The Otago Daily Times said it was “business as usual”  in terms of New Zealand law-making, showing what a Third-World country the country was.

“If that’s what the Government wants to do it can do it,” he told the Otago Daily Times. But it showed that rather than being a First-World country, New Zealand was  “teetering on Third-World status and was prepared to  “basically lie back and prostitute ourselves to get more employment into this country”… more here

Government considering suspending employment laws for Hobbit

“…it looks like the application of bad legislation may be bailed out by the misuse of another piece of poorly conceived law, intended to protect the commercial interests of the 2011 RWC –  to the detriment of all of New Zealand’s workers…”

90 day fire at will law

“New Zealand trades unions have risen to the government’s challenge to prove that the new 90 day ‘Fire At Will’ law, which was passed under urgency (meaning that the public and unions had no chance to make submissions on it)  has resulted in workers losing their jobs…they are encouraging workers to protest against the new law, which they fear will be extended by the government to all businesses in New Zealand. Watch a TV report about the campaign here…”