It’s Finally Here—The Screen Industry Workers Act

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The Governor General recently gave the Royal Assent to the Screen Industry Workers Bill, making it an Act that will come into force on 30 December 2022.

I know I’ve said it before, but I am going to say it again:

“This is the single biggest thing to happen to the New Zealand screen industry.”

It will affect a large part of professional screen production from marketing content, commercials, web series and short films to television and film production.

Every new contract presented to screen workers by producers/production companies from 30 December 2022 on must have the mandatory requirements of the Act. You can learn what they are in the blog I wrote here. For a simple 101 explainer on the Screen Industry Workers Bill, click here.

The Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) is doing its best to educate producers before the Act comes into force—they will be required by the Act to conform.

For you as a screen production worker likely to be engaged by a producer/production company, here is what you should expect.

  • To receive a written contract with sufficient time before the contract starts for you to consider, take advice on and negotiate the terms and conditions presented to you.

In other words, no more getting contracts the day before you start, the day you start, after you start, or not at all.

This includes on low-budget short films, low-budget web series or other qualifying low-budget screen productions.

Any new contract from 30 December 2022 on will need to include:

  • A term saying parties will comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act, and Human Rights Act
  • Bullying, discrimination, and harassment processes
  • Dispute resolution processes
  • Termination notice periods and payments

We will issue a notice about the mandatory clauses that you can expect to see in your contract—all the guilds DEGANZ (directors, editors, assistant editors), NZWG (writers), Equity NZ (actors), SMSG (Screen Music and Sound), SIGANZ (Techos), VEPGNZ (Visual Effects) and MDGA (Motion Designers and Animators) are working with  SPADA (producers/production companies) to agree on these mandatory clauses.

One of the key rules for all parties (the contractor [worker] and the contracting entity [Engager]) with the new Act is:

  • Duty of Good Faith

This sounds like a benign term but it has an important meaning that everyone will need to understand and apply, on both sides (worker and engager):

Duties of good faith for parties in workplace relationship

(1)  Parties in a workplace relationship must not, whether directly or indirectly, do anything—

(a)  to mislead or deceive each other; or

(b)  that is likely to mislead or deceive each other.

The idea that you had to get the express permission of the producer or production company before you showed your contract to an advisor (guild, lawyer, professional advisor) has always been an unacceptable clause put forward under the guise of confidentiality.

If you are a Full member of DEGANZ, you will be able to come to the Guild to have your new contracts checked to ensure that they conform.

For those with existing contracts under which they are working, the producer/production company has 12 months from 30 December 2022 before they will be required to incorporate the mandatory terms of the Act.

DEGANZ collective bargaining will take some time to start and conclude. We expect to enter bargaining around the middle of next year.

It’s vitally important that we start preparing for this now, so that when we move to collective bargaining we are truly representative of all directors, editors and assistant editors. Everyone should have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process required for collective bargaining over the minimum payments, and terms and conditions of their work.

To this end we want all directors, editors and assistant editors to be covered by the Act as a Full member of DEGANZ.

For those of you reading this, please actively encourage everyone you know who is not a member of a guild to become a Full member.

The power of numbers will be very important as we all move forward from here. And it’s our Full members that DEGANZ will represent in any discussions with engagers over contracts, once collective agreements are in place.

A note here: Ngā Aho Whakaari (NAW), Pacific Island Screen Artists (PISA), Pan-Asian Screen Collective (PASC)  and Women In Film and Television NZ (WIFT) are not guilds representing workers under the recognised occupational groups of the Act. Members of these associations should also join the guild that best represents their occupation as a worker.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 21 October 2022