The New Zealand Government has recently introduced the Screen Industry Workers Bill into Parliament.
The Bill would establish a new model to allow screen industry workers to bargain collectively with engagers such as film production companies. Bargaining would be possible at two levels: across entire occupational groups (for example, actors or production technicians), or at the enterprise level within a production or company. Bargaining for occupational-level collective contracts could only be initiated if the Employment Relations Authority (an independent body) is satisfied there is sufficient support within the initiating side. Occupational-level collective contracts would then need to be ratified by a vote. Enterprise-level collective contracts would require both workers and engagers to agree to initiate bargaining. Industrial action (strikes or lockouts) would be prohibited during collective bargaining.
The Bill would also introduce a good faith obligation for contracting relationships in the screen industry. Additionally, all contracts in the screen industry must include mandatory terms about pay, hours of work, and protection from workplace bullying, discrimination or harassment.
As proposed, the Bill amends but does not remove the effect of the 2010 legislative amendment known as the ‘Hobbit law’, which was passed in response to concerns that industrial action by collectivised film industry workers was putting at risk the filming of The Hobbit movies in New Zealand. The ‘Hobbit law’ requires that screen industry workers are classified as independent contractors unless they have written employment agreements. This would continue under the Bill.