Tag Archive for: nzwg

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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

 

Congratulations to DEGANZ members Kishan Raman and Jamie Lawrence for being selected for the New Zealand Writer Guild’s Seed Grant!

They are two of six writers (out of 122 applications) to receive funds from the highly competitive grant, designed for first-time feature filmmakers to develop their screenplay drafts. Both Kishan and Jamie will receive $2,500 to go towards script consultation.

Read more about their qualifying projects below:

Kishan Raman

Rise Up

When a risk-averse dreamer unexpectedly beats his wealthy high school rival in a council election, he now must deliver on his campaign promise: the grandest charity concert Hamilton has ever seen.

Jamie Lawrence

Daz

Confronted by the doll he secretly played with as a boy, an introverted bloke must redefine what it means to “be a man” in order to save her life and change his own.

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I went to a Screen Industry Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (SIGANZ) membership drive event last night. And this morning I read a blog post out of the US about the effort to establish an independent producers union.

SIGANZ, like DEGANZ and other membership organisations that work to represent their members’ interests, and the efforts that the producers in the US are making to establish a union to represent their potential members’ interests, are faced with the same issues—the incredible apathy of many of the people they are seeking to represent.

SIGANZ has a membership of about 6 – 700 of the possible 5 – 10,000 below-the-line people in the NZ screen industry who could be a member of that guild. We have just over three hundred members of the possible 1,000 – 1,500 working directors and editors in New Zealand.

In the US article, many reasons were given for why they weren’t getting the support from the producers they needed to establish a truly representative organisation. One paragraph from that blog stood out:

“There was also a large group of producers who were sceptical of our efforts and whether or not being involved would be detrimental to their relationships with financiers and studios. Then there was another type of producer who couldn’t see the bigger picture. For example, in one town hall, I had a very prominent producer ask, “But how does this benefit me?” While I understand this question, I explained that it’s not just about one producer. The work we were doing is also about the next generation and ensuring that they aren’t exploited in the same ways we have been. It’s about preserving the role of the producer in the future.”

You could substitute the word ‘producer’ with the word ‘director,’ ‘editor,’ or ‘techo,’ and it would have the same relevance for us.

Having worked in this job for close to seven years now, I’ve been faced with the same difficulty those seeking to set up the producers union in the US faced—getting directors and editors who aren’t members to understand that the work we do is more than just about the immediate benefit to the individual, i.e., it’s also about the bigger picture work.

I have multiple big-picture meetings each week with some or all of the EDs and GMs of the other guilds and associations, together with funding bodies, government ministries, and others involved in whatever discussion we are having. Recent examples are the Reform of Vocational Education, The NZ Screen Sector Investment Review, the Screen Industry Workers Act (SIWA), and the proposed merger of RNZ and TVNZ. In the past, it’s been the Copyright Act Review, the NZFC CEO conflict of interest situation around David Strong, and input into the NZ On Air and NZFC strategies. There are others. Some of those went on for years.

The Film Industry Working Group meetings that DEGANZ and many of the other screen industry bodies participated in took place regularly over four long years and resulted in SIWA. All of these things are somewhat abstract when it comes to answering the individual question: How does this benefit me?

A lot of the work that DEGANZ and all the other NZ guilds and associations do is not just about the ‘you’. It’s about the ‘you’ and who comes after ‘you’. Thankfully we all have members and board members who understand this. There just aren’t enough of them. But there could be.

Last night SIGANZ took a different tack by serving up a partnership programme that helps to answer the “what’s the benefit for me” question for them—something they are well positioned to do as representatives of the below-the-line Art Department where the business partner they’ve found could have a significant bottom-line benefit. Not so easy for others of us with small memberships and little buying power.

Every guild and association in New Zealand could significantly grow its membership if a lot of those non-members who could afford it joined the guild or association that best represents them, understanding that we work on their behalf as well as on behalf of future generations of screen workers.

This is a call out for you to encourage those you know to join a guild, whether it’s DEGANZ, SIGANZ, NZWG, Equity NZ, SMSG, VFXPNZ, MDGNZ, or SPADA. We will be more representative, financially independent, and better able to do the work we do now and into the future. There is a significant benefit in that for us all.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

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Here at DEGANZ, we are working through an educational and information campaign as part of our work around the Screen Industry Workers Act (SIWA).

One of the things we are asking editors, assistant editors, and directors to do for themselves is to look at the last ten jobs they did, the number of episodes and durations of the content, the platform it was for, what the total budget was, and then to write down the rate that they were paid to do those jobs. (You can often find the total budgets on the NZ on Air, NZFC, and TMP websites under funding decisions.)

Most people are required to work a 10-hour day, so it’s then a good idea to look at the hourly rate you got.

The current Minimum Wage is $22.70/hr; the current Living Wage is $23.65/hr. So if you do a 50-hour week that’s $1,135.00 Gross at the MW and $1,182.50 at the LW. By looking at your Gross weekly figure, you can see how you compare against the minimum and living wages.

But did you do a 50-week? Or did you do more hours and not get paid anymore for them? This will naturally decrease your hourly income. Why not average out your estimated hours per week and then see how well you did in comparison.

Directors, editors, and assistant editors don’t normally get paid overtime, but are required to work the same work day, being 10 hours, that crew on set work, who do get paid overtime.

The current Blue Book, which lays out the terms and conditions under which crew work, specifies that a standard crew day for a short-term engagement is 10 hours including paid lunch, with overtime at T1.5 for the 11th and 12th hours, and T2 for any time over that.

Most directors already understand that they are often the lowest paid person on set from the start for all key/HOD roles, and it just gets worse if they factor in the hours over 10 they do, while the pay to their key/HOD collaborators climbs with the overtime rates they receive.

All of the above and more will factor into our thinking when it comes to considering what minimum rates should be under SIWA for the various roles we represent in the sub-sectors the work is done—Factual and Entertainment, Scripted, Film – Narrative and Documentary, and Advertising and Marketing Content.

Then there are terms.

NZ crew as we know work hard, but as anyone will tell you, there are times when the crew isn’t working because they are waiting for talent, light, rehearsals, or myriad other things.

Editors and assistant editors however don’t have the luxury of downtime waiting for others. They are usually at it for all those hours of that 10-hour day. That’s significantly different in comparison to the crew. Who decided on the 10-hour day in the edit suite many are now starting to ask, not just because it affects their well-being but because it can affect the quality of the work.

We are having to weigh up many aspects of the current paradigm of work in the screen industry for directors, editors, and assistant editors before we settle on what we will negotiate for when it comes time to enter collective bargaining. What to do about public holidays, turn-around times, the working day, creative rights for directors and editors, and a host of other issues are all under discussion. And then of course we have to solidify our thoughts and come to you all to see whether or not you agree with where we have gotten to before we can start collective bargaining. If you don’t, then we will need to do more work.

Collective bargaining for us requires the employment of a democratic process designed to ensure that the majority are involved in the decision-making leading up to, during bargaining, and in settling on the final terms and conditions we will work under going forward.

There’s no better example of this in action than the screen guilds negotiations happening in the United States at the moment. The Writers Guild of America has kicked it off. The Directors Guild of America is about to start. And the US Screen Actors Guild will follow shortly.

A 98% majority vote by WGA members gave their board the endorsement to call a strike. And they eventually did after negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached an impasse. Democratic votes will be employed at various steps by all those guilds from here on in, in negotiations until they reach solutions.

We’ll be doing the same under the Screen Industry Workers Act, but in our own way, not following the US model.

And that’s why it’s so important right now for every screen worker to join the guild that best represents them: DEGANZ, NZWG, Equity NZ, SMSG, SIGANZ, VFX, Motion Designers and Animators, or the producers’ associations SPADA and APA (formerly NZAPG). These organisations will be negotiating on your behalf and they need your support to make it work for us all.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

The New Zealand Writers Guild have announced the Seed Grant recipients for the first round of 2022, with some of our members on the list.


The Ordeal
by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh and Mia Maramara

Stuck in a hotel quarantine, a desperate writer attempts to finish her screenplay to save her career and marriage but soon becomes mad with mysterious visions that she must solve in order to save her life. Ghazaleh and Mia received one of six Seed Grants of $10,000 to develop a first draft of their joint feature film script.


The Resort
by Curtis Vowell and Sophie Henderson

Returning to her island, Avaiki, Tui finds whole beaches have disappeared. Piecing together the cause of devastation, Tui decolonises herself and her island, rehoming locals in the luxury resort built upon her family’s land. Curtis and Sophie received one of two Seed Advanced Grants of $12,000 to develop their feature film script.

The dates for the second round of seed are yet to be announced, but take a look here for the full list of first round recipients.

Well done to our members! Looking forward to seeing how your projects develop.