SAG 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.