Posts

Film Industry Working Group Recommendations Should Include a Wider Group of Screen Workers

, ,
DEGNZ

For Immediate Release

17 June 2019

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ welcomes the Government’s initial response to the Film Industry Group (FIWG) recommendations, but feels that the proposed changes should apply to protect a wider group of workers in the screen industry.

“As currently outlined, the narrow application of the changes leaves the majority of directors and editors and many other screen workers out of collective bargaining,” said DEGNZ President Howard Taylor. “Those it applies to are generally already the most well paid with the best terms and conditions.”

“Explotiation of screen workers including directors and editors occurs most frequently in the online, reality and factual screen sectors. Under the proposed carve-out, new and mid-level practitioners will not be protected by any minimum standards, and will continue to suffer from poor working conditions and renumeration”

In a recent survey, Creative New Zealand and New Zealand On Air identified that the median personal annual income for creative professionals is around $35,800 – compared to $51,800 for all New Zealanders earning a wage or salary. When you take away other sources of income, the median income from creative work is only $15,000.

DEGNZ fully supports the two bodies joint strategic initiatives to improve the wellbeing of creative professionals, namely:

  • Fair reward – working towards:
    • ensuring lower-paid creative professionals are paid in line with technical professionals
    • lifting pay to the point where creative professionals start to feel it is a fair reward for their work.
  • Sustainability – working to make the careers of mid-career and established creative professionals more sustainable through more continuous creative endeavours.
  • Emerging creative professionals – working with the sector (including peak bodies and guilds) to find better ways to support creative professionals at the start of their career.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with Government during drafting of the legislation to expand the coverage of the changes” Taylor added. “Bringing as many screen workers as possible into collective bargaining would help to build a sustainable and vibrant creative sector in New Zealand.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director
Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
+64 21 659 950
tui@degnz.co.nz

The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is a not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Directors and Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors and Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.

DEGNZ’s two primary roles are advocacy and professional development. We:

  • are dedicated to promoting excellence in the arts of directing and editing.
  • foster collegiality and unity within the screen industry.
  • promote members’ creative and economic rights.
  • work to improve industry working conditions and remuneration.
  • offer professional advice and information on contracts and industry standards and practice.
  • offer professional development events, networking opportunities, career advice, dispute resolution, mentoring, workshops, training, discounts and regular news bulletins for members across all levels of expertise, from novices to seasoned professionals.

DEGNZ is a voice for Directors and Editors in influencing policy in the interest of our members. We do this through our membership of the pan-industry group SINZ (Screen Industry New Zealand), and by making submissions to government and public officials.

Internationally, we work co-operatively with other guilds and we belong to the International Affiliation of English-Speaking Directors’ Organisations (IEASDO), and the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Writers And Directors (AAPA).

DEGNZ is Auckland-based with an office in Grey Lynn.

Contact Details:

Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
Level 2, 66 Surrey Crescent
Grey Lynn
P.O. Box 47-294, Ponsonby
Auckland
+64-9-360-2102
admin@degnz.co.nz
http://www.degnz.co.nz
www.facebook.com/degnz
www.linkedin.com/in/degnz
@degnz_online

Recommendations for screen sector workplace relations unveiled

, ,
DEGNZ

Media release

17 October 2018

A recommended model to allow collective bargaining for contractors in the screen sector has today been unveiled by the Government-convened Film Industry Working Group.

The recommendations, which will now be considered by Government, offer a new path forward for the screen sector, following 2010 law changes to workplace relations in the industry.

“This has been an exercise in collaboration and compromise, and we believe it sets the screen sector on a much stronger footing going forward,” says Group Facilitator Linda Clark.

“The screen industry is unlike any other. The nature of filming means producers require certainty of cost and flexibility of conditions in order to complete a production on time and on budget. Project durations are often fixed, and one worker can be involved in multiple productions during a year.

“The working group is proposing a model that reflects the sector’s uniqueness. It retains parts of the current law, but also allows contractors to bargain collectively and it establishes principles that promote strong, productive relationships. To keep up with current trends, it also applies more appropriately to the overall screen sector, rather than film productions alone.”

The recommendations include:

  • keeping the part of the current law that says film workers are only employees if they have a written employment agreement. This provides the certainty of cost and flexibility of conditions needed in the screen industry.
  • allowing contractors to bargain collectively at an occupation level within the screen industry, such as amongst actors or technicians. The process will be supported by principles, set requirements, and a dispute resolution system. Any resulting collective contracts should apply to all contract work in that occupation.
  • establishing principles that govern relationships in the screen industry, including good faith, protection from bullying, discrimination and harassment, reasonable termination of contracts, and fair rates of pay.
  • applying the model to all screen production work, including film and television, to accurately reflect the industry in New Zealand. The screen sector is increasingly fluid for workers and producers, due to changes in technology and viewing habits. Many workers frequently move between the two, and projects increasingly do not fall neatly into either the ‘film’ or ‘television’ productions.

Ms Clark says the recommendations have the full support of all members of the working group.

“As a sector, the group’s members are committed to a vibrant, strong and world-leading screen industry. All of the members valued the opportunity to work together constructively to develop a model that works for the sector.

“We look forward to the Government’s response.”

The working group’s full recommendations are available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/film-industry-working-group

The Film Industry Working Group was convened by the Government earlier this year. Its members are:

  • Alex Lee, Film Auckland
  • Alice Shearman, New Zealand Writers Guild
  • Augie Davis, Stunt Guild of New Zealand
  • Barrie Osborne, film producer
  • Brendan Keys, Weta Digital
  • Erina Tamepo, Ngā Aho Whakaari
  • Melissa Ansell-Bridges, Equity New Zealand
  • Michael Brook, Regional Film Offices New Zealand
  • Paul Mackay, BusinessNZ
  • Richard Fletcher, Screen Production and Development Association
  • Richard Wagstaff, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
  • Sioux Macdonald, Screen Industry Guild
  • Tui Ruwhiu, Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand

[ends]

For further information, contact:

Linda Clark
Facilitator, Film Industry Working Group
linda.clark@kensingtonswan.com
027 490 7942

Melissa Ansell-Bridges
Director, Equity New Zealand
melissa.ansell-bridges@actorsequity.org.nz
027 360 1980

Richard Fletcher
Co-President, Screen Production and Development Association
richard@libertinepictures.com
021 655 339

Is it Time to be a Union?

,
View from the Top banner

In 2000, the Guild, which is an incorporated society, discussed whether or not to become a craft union when the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act making collective bargaining possible. However, because the majority of Guild members continued to see themselves as freelance operators, there was never unified support for unionisation.

The Hobbit Law introduced in 2010 categorised all film workers as contractors, further preventing film workers from collective bargaining as contractors are unable to access collective bargaining mechanisms currently.

In the independently run DEGNZ membership survey of 2016, nearly 83 percent of the membership said that they would be interested in DEGNZ negotiating collective agreements with minimum rates and conditions on their behalf.

Earlier this year, Minister of Workplace Relations and Employment Iain Lees-Galloway gave The Film Industry Working Group (FIWG), which DEGNZ is participating in, the objective of making recommendations to the Government on changes to the regulatory framework for film industry workers to restore the rights of film production workers to collectively bargain in a way that:

  • Allows film production workers who wish to continue working as individual contractors to do so;
  • Provides certainty to encourage continued film investment in New Zealand by film production companies; and
  • Maintains competition between businesses offering film production services to promote a vibrant, strong and world-leading industry.

Now in 2018, we see the nurses engaged in collective negotiations, former prime minister Jim Bolger appointed to head the Fair Pay working group, and the FIWG some months into the task that Lees-Galloway set it.

Labour relations are coming full circle as is clearly obvious just from the newspaper headlines.

Unionisation has been on the DEGNZ board’s mind for more than the last two years, primarily because of deteriorating terms and conditions and rates of pay for directors and editors, even though many of our members are still contractors.

Do we need to unionise? Not necessarily. We are a craft guild and the representative body for working directors and editors in New Zealand. As long as we are endorsed as such by our membership and officially recognised by industry and government in our role, we are well positioned to continue to advocate, lobby and represent those who chose us to do so.

Internationally, the Directors Guild of America has long been a union. In Australia, the Australian Directors Guild became a union in 2014. Directors UK is both a collection society and a non-profit organisation like us that represents directors’ interests there. The Screen Directors Guild of Ireland is also not a union. What are the pluses and minuses you ask? So far we haven’t discovered anything that massively swings the pendulum either way. But we would like to hear your opinions. Does DEGNZ need to be a union to represent you?

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Fair Pay

,
View from the Top banner

On Tuesday the government announced the appointment of former prime minister Jim Bolger to head a 10-person working group that would report back on the design of Fair Pay Agreements.

This is welcome news to me as those of you who have read my blog posts will know—I personally and also as the ED of DEGNZ, have long railed against poor pay in the screen industry, particularly for many directors, especially in the online content area and at Māori Television.

The Fair Pay Agreements that were part of Labour’s manifesto going into the election are workplace laws setting minimum terms and conditions of employment for workers in the same industry or occupation.

I along with a representative group of the screen industry have been grappling with such issues for some months. As the Film Industry Working Group, we are working to respond to Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway’s objectives for the group to restore the rights of film production workers to collectively bargain, in a way that:

  • allows film production workers who wish to continue working as individual contractors to do so;
  • provides certainty to encourages continued investment in New Zealand by providing certainty to film production companies; and
  • maintains competition between businesses offering film production services to promote a vibrant, strong and world-leading film industry.

The Government’s intentions with the Fair Pay Agreement is, quoting from a Stuff article, “to lift pay and conditions by preventing a ‘race to the bottom’ by preventing employers from competing with each other by lowering wages.”

This is exactly the situation we have been faced with for directors in the screen industry and one the Guild has long sought to address.

Bringing Bolger in to head the panel is both ironic and considered a Labour masterstroke. It was Bolger’s government that introduced the Employment Relations Act that was considered damaging to workplace relations and, according to Economist Brian Easton, advantaged employers over workers, did nothing to raise productivity, and had next to no impact in raising real wages. See The Spinoff article here).

There is obvious concern from employers and businesses about what the Fair Pay Agreements will mean, but there does seem to be an understanding on their parts that a rebalancing is required—a sentiment that is also gaining traction with some producers and production companies in the screen industry.

National certainly seems to have come to the party… with a party, or more accurate with a concert—a benefit concert—in a spoof from the Spinoff—a cynical send up I’d welcome if it were true because the disadvantaged do need help.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

The Big Picture

,
View from the Top banner

There’s a lot of big picture stuff going on at the moment, so I thought I would take the time to discuss it a little further.

DEGNZ together with other guilds, screen industry bodies and representatives, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and Business New Zealand have been meeting regularly to formulate recommendations to the Minister of Employment about how we can restore the right of workers in the industry to collectively bargain, without necessarily changing the status of those who wish to continue working as individual contractors. We are making good progress at this point and are expected to finalise recommendations by the end of June at the latest as required by the Minister.

The Guild has been very active in regard to the ongoing Copyright Act Review now underway. We expect the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to release an issues paper before the middle of the year in what is going to be a multi-year review process. We are working very hard to get Director’s Copyright onto that issues paper and have the support of the Australian Directors Guild, Directors UK and the Directors Guild of America in our efforts.

President Howard Taylor and board member Annie Collins have been toiling quietly away on the idea of a proposed Code of Ethics, instigated by us, and being discussed by all the guilds and other industry bodies. Some of you will have participated in the survey we put out to the screen industry. We have received very valuable feedback from the survey and are redrafting the proposed code now for a second round of consultation. We expect before the end of the year to be able to introduce and promote the Code of Ethics and hope that the industry and funding bodies take it up as an ethical guideline to all behaviour in the screen sector.

We are keeping a very close watch on developments around RNZ+, meeting key players to try and determine what the potential outcomes might be, and also working to determine the Guild’s position on public media broadcasting and the best way to ramp it up. We would be interested in hearing from members’ views on the following:

  1. If RNZ+ as a platform receives a specific funding increase from Government to deliver better public service media including audio visual content, should it as a platform also be able to seek funding from NZ On Air? Or, should the the funding streams and content be kept entirely separate, i.e. NZ On Air funding used only to create content for commerical broadcasters/platforms?
  2. Should RNZ+ commision audio-visual content from outside suppliers, or create it inhouse?

Could members address any thoughts you might have on this to admin@degnz.co.nz with RNZ+ Thoughts in the subject line. Thanks in advance and hope it’s all going well for you out there.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director