New Zealand Caves on Hobbit: Did SAG/AFTRA Blink?

hobbit_annotated_rev_bigSAG and AFTRA initially joined a boycott in support of the unionization of film industry workers in New Zealand, but then pulled out after only a few weeks of effort. Now New Zealand has provided the employer legislative insulation against unions there calling, speciously, film industry workers “independent contractors.” That the legislation targets below the line workers is particularly heinous.

If SAG and AFTRA had held fast, together with unions in Australia, Canada, the UK and other countries, they might have made it impossible for the studio to move the production elsewhere.

If asked, no doubt SAG and AFTRA would point to the fact that New Zealand Equity gave the green light to give in. Pro-moderate website SAG Watch says the big guilds took their “cue” (pun intended presumably) from NZ Equity.

But that’s the tail wagging the dog. Actors unions in NZ are relatively weak and in desperate need of support from their well established sister guilds in other countries. As this article on the dispute from the New Zealand Herald News indicates, NZ Equity was under tremendous pressure from the film’s anti-union director Peter Jackson as well from conservative elements in the NZ labor movement and wider political scene.

So much for global solidarity and another sign, it would seem, of the impact of the new moderate leaders running the Hollywood guilds.

BBC News – Hobbit legislation passed in New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “New Zealand Caves on Hobbit: Did SAG/AFTRA Blink?”

  1. Making cross border efforts like this work is complex but there should be more transparency into what happened here at the very least. Also, I think there should be some concern about the effort to define film workers as “independent contractors.” I plan to follow up and post on the court case that allegedly had alarmed Sir Peter and Warners.

  2. Steve, are you perhaps wondering, too, about what may have happened to peek-a-boo… now you see ’em and now you don’t… FIA? After all, wasn’t it FIA, the international union umbrella, that issued the, initial, DO NOT WORK on behalf of New Zealand Equity? What was FIA’s plan? Did they plan to stay the course? Or, was the plan to simply involve SAG and then split?

    Also, I wonder, what happend to SAG’s Senior Advisor, John McGuire (who over many years has represented SAG at numerous FIA meetings)? He should know more, than just about anybody, re the inner workings of FIA. However, I’ve not seen John McGuire’s name mentioned anywhere.


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