According to Stuff.co.nz, the Hobbit will be staying on NZ shores. Labour Laws will be rushed through parliament today so that an unjust, exploitative multinational can get its way. It’s pretty clear who controls the Government in New Zealand: profit margins and offshore interests. We are essentially prostituting our labour laws to a multinational, all so the big wigs at the top can profit from the economic boom it creates. Not only will everyday, working New Zealanders see next to none of that money, but we have to pay for the film to be here from our own taxes. The economic spin off goes straight into the pockets of those at the top, while the workers on the film continue to work in unfair and unjust conditions.
For example, if an actor has to pull out of production, they have to pay for their replacement from their own wages, and can be sued by the producer for damages. “But if the producer changed their mind about a production, all they’re obliged to do is give a day’s notice… that’s standard in New Zealand.” One argument has been that if actors don’t like these conditions, they should get another job. Yet New Zealand is in an all time high for unemployment, and there is limited work in the film industry as it is. Production companies often try to take advantage of this and exploit people who are desperate for work and are competing against each other. Coupled with a drive for less and less workers rights, one wonders why people are so upset that workers would try and get a little bit more of a fair deal.
The dangerous precedent with the Hobbit is that it opens the door to widespread contracting, which could replace already unfair employment relations. Once the movie is done and dusted, and the media hype dies, all those who protested for the Hobbit on Labour day will have to face an uncertain employment future. Being an employed wage slave is bad enough, but to a contracted one is worse. Essentially working alone and bound to an individual agreement with someone who already has a large amount of power and privilege, contract work relies squarely on the strength of your own negotiation. When we are isolated and individualised, employers can erode the many rights we have fought for as workers: higher wages, sick days, holidays and less hours of work. We saw it with Telecom recently, and now it’s going to be cemented into law.
I hope you are happy, Hobbit fans.