The biggest change ever to happen to the New Zealand screen industry is fast approaching. No, it’s not the merger of TVNZ and Radio NZ. It’s the Screen Industry Workers Bill (SIWB).
Before the end of the year, the SIWB is almost certain to become legislation.
Representative bodies for all workers in the screen industry, and DEGANZ is one of them, will engage with the Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) and perhaps others once the Bill becomes an Act, to negotiate collective agreements that will set minimum terms and conditions under which contract screen workers will carry out their work.
Writers, Actors, Directors, DOPs, Production Designers, Editors, Visual Effects Artists, Sound Engineers, Composers, Grips, Gaffers, Makeup Artists, Wardrobe Designers—the list goes on to cover every contractor involved in making Film, TV, Games and Advertising, with a few exceptions.
Everybody in those roles being negotiated for will get a say in deciding the terms and conditions for their roles, if they want, through a democratic voting process that will cover members of guilds and non-members alike.
These agreements will be for both domestic productions, and international productions shooting here.
The agreements will be baseline agreements, meaning terms and conditions cannot be any less than what is negotiated. However, those terms and conditions can be improved upon through Enterprise (individual productions) and Individual Contracts. Where there are no Enterprise or Individual Contracts, the collective agreements will apply.
Most people in the New Zealand screen industry have never experienced collective agreements in their roles. The change the SIWB will bring about is perhaps the biggest to happen now and into the future for screen.
Misinformation and disinformation about the Bill could well play a part from here on in. So it behoves everybody in the screen industry to get the facts about the SIWB, because it is going to affect every one of you directly.
From here on in, guilds, associations and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will be running education programmes to not only inform screen workers but also the general public about what is happening.
A simple explainer is available here.
The detail of the Bill will shortly be finalised and will go back to the House for its second reading. Then amendments will be made through Supplementary Order Papers with the changes recommended by Minister Michael Wood before finally being passed into law with Third Reading.
Once the Bill is passed, there will be some work to ensure that everyone working in the screen industry has a contract in writing that sets out some mandatory conditions to deal with sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination and a clause dealing with fair termination. After that it will take some time before DEGANZ sits down with SPADA to negotiate the collective contract setting out the minimums for pay and working conditions for our occupational groups, but we need to start getting ready now.
I encourage all DEGANZ members to make the utmost effort to understand the SIWB because it will be vitally important to your futures.