Tag Archive for: SIWB

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

Select committee oral submissions are underway on the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media Bill, which will ultimately become the act for the new entity ANZPM, combining TVNZ and RNZ.

There were 892 written submissions on the Bill. It was introduced to the House on the 23rd of June this year. With the new entity ANZPM intended to be up and running on 1 March 2023, this effectively means that the Third Reading of the Bill needs to be done before the end of the year. Six months in total in the House. Hare speed for such a complex and crucial piece of legislation.

Tortoise speed defines the passage of the Screen Industry Workers Bill in comparison. It was introduced into the house on the 18th of February 2020. It had its Third Reading on the 27th of September this year. Which means it’s a done deal. Yay!

Granted, COVID sat within the two and a half year passage of the SIWB. But what it gave us was two years of Film Industry Working Group effort to work through the many issues of moving thoughts, ideas and good intentions onto paper, and then into a two and a half-year government process to become legislation.

From watching a number of the oral submissions for the ANZPM Bill, it’s pretty clear that while most support it, very few think a good job has been done in coming up with the current proposed legislation under consideration. There’s so much wrong with what’s been put up—or more pertinently what’s lacking/missing from what’s been proposed—that it’s clear that a lot more time and careful thought is required to get it right.

Problem is, the Government is on a seeming agenda to get it through in case they lose the election, hence the 1 March 2023 start date for the new entity. So much money, time and effort will have been spent getting it done that it won’t make sense for the Opposition to reverse it if they come into Government late 2023.

This approach doesn’t serve the wider New Zealand media industry, including us in the screen sector, all of whom are nervous or quaking at the thought of ANZPM as the behemoth it will become.

The attitude from Government seems to be: trust us and trust the new media entity. All will be okay. And TVNZ smiles and says it promises to play nicely and look after us all as it licks its chops at the thought of being able to go its merry commercial way as a bigger, richer beast.

The hare is definitely getting across the line first in this particular race. The tortoise… here’s hoping it doesn’t end up in the summer sun, wondering how it’s going to right itself while being picked over by vultures.

The only thing we can pray for now is that in the remaining months a significant effort goes into rewriting the current draft into something that’s going to work for public media service and the sustainability of the independent media sector.

A big ask.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

There has been a flurry of activity around the Screen Industry Workers Bill in the last month.

On the 23rd of August the Bill had its second reading in the House.

Then it went to the Committee of the Whole House on the 31st of August.

We expect that the Bill will have its third and final reading in the house next week. We hope. It’s No. 5 on the Order Paper, so it may not be gotten to on the day if things drag out.

But if it doesn’t, what happens from there?

If the Bill gets its third reading, it is then destined to become law but not until it receives Royal Assent from the King’s (?!) representative, the Governor General. The Bill will come into force three months after it’s signed by the Governor General.

While we all prepare for collective bargaining, which the Act will allow for contractors in the screen industry, six new rules will come into effect immediately when the Bill comes into force:

  1. Duty of good faith applies between workers and their engagers
  2. Individual contracts must be in writing
  3. Engagers must follow process rules for making and varying individual contracts
  4. Individual contracts must contain mandatory terms. Existing contracts will have extra time – 12 months – to comply with this
  5. Terms must not be worse than any applicable collective contract (once it has been negotiated)
  6. Engagers can’t cancel contracts in retaliation for workers exercising their rights

If you are working as a contractor in the screen industry and are covered by the Bill, four of the above six rules will apply straight away, being 1., 2., 3., & 6.

Rule 4. will also apply if you enter into a new contract.

Rule 5. will apply when a collective agreement is negotiated.

These six rules change the dynamic of the relationship between you as the contractor and the person or company contracting you. They will be law. They must be abided by. And they are enforceable.

In other words, you will have protection as a contractor in your working relationship with the entity contracting you that you didn’t have previously.

This change in dynamic is going to take some time for everyone to get used to. It’s important however that everyone understands what it all means and how it will affect them.

We have published a simplified guide to what the Screen Industry Workers Bill means, with links to additional information.

Please take the time to read and learn about the Screen Industry Workers Bill because it’s going to become an important part of your working life.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director