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October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Union leaders in New Zealand were up in arms Friday (New Zealand time) over the deal struck between Warner Bros. executives and Prime Minister John Key that requires changes in the country’s labor laws to define film workers as independent contractors rather than employees. “That a foreign corporation can come into this country and demand that workers’ rights in this industry be removed — and that’s effectively what’s going to happen,” said Helen Kelly, president of the Council of Trade Unions (without concluding her thought). She said that by defining film workers as independent contractors, producers will be able to deprive them of basic benefits, including sick leave and holiday overtime. But Rosemarie McLeod, a columnist for the New Zealand Dominion Post called the union action “inept” and accused Kelly of “behaving as if she’s representing miners at the pit face. … An actor’s entire working life is a talent quest with no built-in guarantees.” A bill that will implement Thursday’s agreement was submitted to the New Zealand Parliament “under urgency” on Friday. It covers all workers who “engage in film production work as an actor, voice-over actor, stand-in, body double, stunt performer, extra, singer, musician, dancer or entertainer” or who are “engaged in film production work in any other capacity” including everything from pre- to post-production work. Broadcast television employees are specifically excluded.