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'I was never asked for a meeting. Not without a gun to my head' - Sir Peter

Sir Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films launched a blistering attack on NZ Equity. The full text:

In an email circulated yesterday to members of Actors' Equity from their executive the following claim is made:

"All NZ Equity sought was to meet with the production and discuss the conditions under which performers would be engaged.

This request to meet was backed by the International Federation of Actors (FIA) and performers’ unions around the world including SAG and Equity UK.

The request was in the first instance made privately, without the glare of the media on August 17. "

Today Peter Jackson released the August 17th letter which was addressed not to himself, but to the US directors of 3 Foot 7 Limited.

"I was not being asked to meet, I was copied on a request by the union to enter into collective bargaining with the US Directors of Warner Brothers production company, 3 Foot 7 Limited."

The August 17th letter, reads:

Recently, The International Federation of Actors (FIA) became aware that the production of “The Hobbit” intends to hire performers under non-union contracts.

For this reason FIA, at its most recent meeting, unanimously passed the following motion:

Resolved, that the International Federation of Actors urges each of its affiliates to adopt instructions to their members that no member of any FIA affiliate will agree to act in the theatrical feature film 'The Hobbit' until such time as the producer has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance for production in New Zealand providing for satisfactory terms and conditions for all performers employed on the production”.

FIA therefore encourages you to meet immediately with representatives of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance in order to reach an agreement covering all performers engaged on this production.

In the first instance could you please make contact with Simon Whipp of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance.

Jackson goes on to say: "This is the first time I was made aware of the issue. It was the first time a meeting was ever requested and it was clear from the letter, they had already voted to blacklist us, before even asking for one conversation with me.

"I am sick and tired of hearing Equity say 'All we ever wanted was a meeting,' because it's disingenuous - they fail to add that from the outset, they had a gun to our head.

"It just made me incredibly angry, I wondered how can a union behave like this?

"How could Simon Whipp initiate an international strike action against our film with no prior vote from the Kiwi membership?"

"When NZ Equity did finally vote on the issue they didn't ratify the international ban but, came up with a watered down version of the wording.

"They couldn't even agree to endorse an industrial action that had been taken out in their name. Frankly, the fact that all of this was driven by an Australian union official, only made me angrier. "

NZ Equity has made numerous statements about wanting to meet with Peter Jackson to collectively bargain terms and conditions for all cast on The Hobbit.

But Jackson was advised that collective bargaining is illegal for independent contractors under NZ law and he was warned against taking any meetings, whether it was on an official basis or having an informal chat 'over a cup of tea.'

All the way through this period WingNut Films requests of the union to lift the blacklist were ignored, even after NZ Equity had admitted their request for collective bargaining was in fact illegal.

"They are attempting to characterise their actions as an innocent request for a meeting, but the truth is they kept a loaded gun to our heads the entire time," says Jackson.

Under their current rules the NZ Equity Executive are not obliged to consult with the membership before they undertake international industrial action.

But Jackson says that any decision on industrial action should be made by the membership via a valid resolution.

"It amazes me that The Executive Officer of NZ Actor's Equity can walk rough shod over our industry and the union itself fails to adhere to the most basic principles of democratic process.

"NZ Equity has given Simon Whipp absolute power and no one seems to care if he abuses it. He can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Kiwis, jeopardise a huge financial investment to this country and he's not held accountable.

"We are talking about an organisation that according to the MEAA's 2009 annual report, has the sum total 85 New Zealand members. It's unbelievable!"

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Comments and questions
13

Finally some facts start to emerge.

Peter, they may have held a gun to your head but they turned it round loaded all the chambers and shot themselves with it.

Who would trust NZ Equity, Kelly and Co again, the unions prove it time and time again they are totally self serving and totally disingenuous.

Go Peter Go !!!

Sir Peter has been a true genelteman here. I am sure it must have been hard to resist calling those union p***ks exaclty what they are....

Sir Peter has been a true genelteman here. I am sure it must have been hard to resist calling those union p***ks exaclty what they are....

why companies like Fisher & Paykel have left NZ, or are are in the process over the next 10 years of moving. Of course when it is a company they are just 'greedy'. Somehow Peter Jackson is seen differently. Union power and the RMA are killing NZ

Hmm, F&P leaves NZ and their quality goes to crap. I'll never buy anything from them again.

Companies outsource all their workforce overseas, where workers have few rights and bad conditions, and then moan about how there is no market in NZ - maybe because no one earns enough to spend on anything more than food and petrol.

Yeah, some unions - and this seems one of them - behave badly. So do some companies. Companies that shift their workforce overseas so that the CEO can earn 4000x the average worker wage instead of only 400x deserve what's coming to them.

Clearly Labour have decided to send in their jackalls to attempt to destabilise the film industry, and the tourism industry associated with Sir Peter's successes, just as they are trying to get another 4% from "the government", which is rubbish because the 4% would have to be borrowed on top of the weekly $250M being borrowed and paid for by ordinary hard working Kiwis who haven't had any increases due to the dire straights the economy is in, much of which is as a direct consequence of Labour's nine years of disastrous mismanagement and handouts in the form of voter bribes. And the PPT doesn't care even if it causes students to fail. As long as they think the can damage the current government, anything goes......

I hope Robyn Malcolm does not appear in this film.

Let's not forget the role of the so-called Supreme Court in this almighty horlicks. Its judges seem to be appointed on the basis of co-ownership of racehorses and any objective analysis of its judgements would have to conclude it gets it totally wrong most of the time. Without their stupid ruling on "contractors vs employees" the equity union idiots would never have been emboldened in their attempt to shoot the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Richard D
Taxpayer - US$15m. Warner Bros +US$15m. Unions credability 0,
Well played Warners, an easy US$15m served on a platter by union niavity. Please CTU and co, go and represent someone else, some where else. I don't want to pay for your costly lack of ability to operate in the big league.

cut to the chase, this union actually caused more good than harm. now the bros from warner is working with the NZ government to promote tourism. thanks Simon, I am sure deep down you are just a sheep disguise as a wolf

cut to the chase, this union did more good than harm in the end. the bros from warner is now working with the the NZ government to promote tourism not counting out the fact they want to make more movies in NZ. Simon Whipp and his gangs are really good sheeps disguised as a wolves

Not watching outrageous fortune anymore. It's really outrageous. Not sure what she's up to now. Union just want your fees.