Come Together! Right Now!

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The current fight to protect employee jobs going on at TVNZ by union E tū highlights the importance of unions in the New Zealand screen industry, and the importance of the Screen Industry Workers Act (SIWA) for screen contractors, who until SIWA came along in December 2023 had essentially no protections.

TVNZ is one of the few screen businesses to have a significant number of employees. Those employees have the protections of the Employment Relations Act. Screen contractors now have the protections of SIWA.

The employees at TVNZ who are journalists and media workers and members of E tū have a collective agreement.

We at DEGANZ together with the Writers Guild of New Zealand, Equity New Zealand and some other guilds, are currently seeking to put a collective agreement in place with the Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA).

With collective agreements in place, we will have negotiated minimum pay rates and terms and conditions for screen contractors that will provide some certainty for us all.

And with collective agreements, we will be able to fight much more effectively for our members when those negotiated agreements aren’t adhered to.

If you have been following the developments at TVNZ you are most likely aware that E tū is going to file a claim with the Employment Relations Authority against TVNZ. It’s the union’s view that the company did not follow its consultation requirements, as guaranteed for workers in their collective agreement.

The Employment Relations Authority is a Tribunal established under the Employment Relations Act. Members of the Authority help to resolve employment relationship problems.

Under SIWA, the Employment Relations Authority will also help to resolve contractor relationship problems, should a screen guild seek to file a claim against a producer or production company on behalf of one or more contractors who are members.

The employees at TVNZ have for decades helped create the news, current affairs shows, and other programmes much loved by New Zealand audiences. Following the news of yesterday, Sunday, and the Midday and Tonight Bulletins are gone, and Fair Go significantly reduced, with about 70 job losses.  Over at Warner Bros. Discovery, Newshub staff found out that just under 300 jobs will go there.

We all know that it’s not just news and current affairs programmes that will be affected.

SPADA in a press release yesterday that you can read here, estimates that up to $50 million is coming out of our sector and that there is uncertainty around big popular shows like Shortland Street, Celebrity Treasure Island, The Traitors NZ, Married at First Sight NZ, food shows, home shows, and more.

If ever there was a time for every screen worker in New Zealand to come together as members of their guilds and for us to negotiate collective agreements, it’s right now.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

 

Last updated on 11 April 2024