A Starter's Guide to the
Screen Industry Workers Bill
What is the Bill?
The Screen Industry Workers Bill (SIWB or The Bill) is an attempt to remedy the current Employment Relations Amendment Act 2010 aka The Hobbit Law. The 2010 amendment created an environment where screen production workers do not have the same abilities to have enforceable minimums, test their employment status, collectively bargain, or adequately remedy contracting disputes, as workers in other industries do.
SIWB is designed to restore the right of screen workers to collectively bargain, and to establish enforceable contracts with mandatory terms.
SIWB is for contractors in the screen industry only. Employees in the screen industry, carry on!
The Bill enables collective bargaining for occupational groups within the screen industry.
The Bill itself does not set minimum fees or working conditions.
Those things will be set at the collective bargaining stage.
The Bill covers screen productions in Aotearoa New Zealand, including: films, television series and computer generated games.
What will the Bill do for Screenwriters?
The Bill brings screenwriters representatives, and producers representatives, to the table together to work out some basics (called Mandatory Terms or Minimums in the Bill) that must go into every contract. These basics will be agreed and cannot be left out of any contract, so every writer will benefit from them.
These basics don't mean that everyone will get paid the same - writers can still negotiate their own terms based on experience and skill - what they do mean is that no writer will be offered payment or terms that fall below an agreed minimum. To offer less money or worse conditions would breach what has been agreed and would be unlawful.
In that way, the collective bargain is a safety net and protection for all writers - we are no longer individuals negotiating for ourselves, we are part of an occupational group (writers) who are entitled to agreed minimum payment and conditions.
We can negotiate upwards of this agreement, but we cannot negotiate below the mutually agreed minimum terms.
That is the power of collective bargaining. 'No writer left behind!'
Who does the bill cover?
The Bill covers the following screen industry workers, they are called Occupational Groups in the Bill:
Individuals who create or modify musical compositions for screen productions
Individuals who direct the making of screen productions by visualising scripts while guiding performers and technicians to capture a screen production’s vision
Individuals who work on, or contribute to, computer-generated games and who do not fall within the description of the composer, director, performer, or writer
Individuals who portray roles in screen productions, including stunt persons, narrators, voice-over actors, extras, singers, musicians, and dancers
Individuals who work on, or contribute to, screen productions during the post-production phase, and who do not fall within the description of any other occupational group
Individuals who work on, or contribute to, screen productions before the post-production phase, and who do not fall within the description of any other occupational group
Individuals who write, edit, contribute to, and evaluate scripts and stories for screen productions
What types of productions does the bill cover?
The Bill covers the following types of screen productions:
programmes (one-offs, mini-series and TV series etc.)
The Bill DOES NOT cover the following types of screen productions:
advertising programmes that are longer than 5 minutes in duration
music and dance
news and current affairs
recreation and leisure
training and instructional
What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is the process used to negotiate collective contracts. Collective contracts are contracts between occupational groups and engagers. In the screen industry engagers will be the Producers and Production Companies you normally work with, they will be represented by SPADA.
The Bill enables representative organisations to collectively bargain contracts on behalf of the occupational groups. For example, NZWG would collectively bargain / negotiate on behalf of the writers and SPADA would be negotiating on behalf of the Producers as the engager.
What is in a collective contract?
In the Bill there are three types of collective contracts, they are:
Individual Contracts - between an individual screen worker and an engager
Enterprise Collective Contracts - collective occupational agreements on an individual project / production
Occupational Collective Contracts - collective agreements across occupational groups
All three types of contracts must contain mandatory terms. These are terms that the engager cannot opt out of or negotiate below, they are:
Comply with obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Human Rights Act 1993
Processes for resolving disputes
Step one Get involved with the guild or industry organisation that represents your primary occupation in the screen industry
Step two Come along to a workshop, meet your fellow screenwriters, learn more about The Bill and how to get involved
Step three Read the emails and communication sent out by your guild, we will update you on progress and further steps!
Become a member of NZWG
Come to a Workshop
Useful Links and resources
A Brief History
A wee timeline of The Bill.
Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill AKA The Hobbit Law
This legislation was passed overnight in 2010 by the National Government of the day. The reasons and rationale become clear over the next decade, unfortunately at the time it was a law that divided an industry.
You can read the following explanation by Helen Kelly, President of the NZ Council of Trade Unions in 2011.
Film Industry Working Group (FIWG) - Formed in January 2018
The Minister of Work Place Relations Iain Lees-Galloway formed the Film Industry Working Group (FIWG) working group consisting of screen industry representative (including NZWG), alongside the Council of Trade Unions and BusinessNZ.
The working group was formed to make recommendations on changes to the regulatory framework for film industry workers that will restore the rights of film production workers to collectively bargain.
You can find the following background on the history of the FIWG.
FIWG Recommendations - Delivered in October 2018
By October 2018, the FIWG had unanimously agreed on a set of recommendations that were presented to the Minister and government. These recommendations would then form the basis of drafting the new legislation to be called the Screen Industry Workers Bill. Between October 2018 and December 2019, a smaller subgroup of the original FIWG was called back into MBIE conversation and consultation to assist with the technicalities of drafting SIWB Legislation.
The smaller FIWG consisted of a Alice Shearman - Executive Director NZWG, Richard Fletcher - Co-President SPADA, Melissa Ansell-Bridges - Executive Director Actors Equity and Sioux MacDonald - Vice President SIGANZ
You can read the following full recommendations by the FIWG.
FIWG Recommendations - The Government Responds
In May 2019, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway responds to the FIWG. He agrees to endorse the FIWG’s recommendations subject to limiting the scope of workers covered by their proposed model, create a new regulatory framework for contractors doing screen production work and commence consultation with parties in the screen industry on draft legislation giving effect to the policy decisions in this paper.
This kicks off another year of consultation around the drafting of the legislation between Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the smaller FIWG cohort.
You can read the following full response from government.
Screen Industry Workers Bill - Introduced to parliament
In February 2020 the Screen Industry Workers Bill completed drafting and was introduced to Parliament. This started the process of readings and investigation through the Education and Workforce Select Committee:
5 March 2020 - First Reading of the draft legislation in Parliament
25 May 2020 - Written Submissions to the Education and Workforce Select Committee
Jun-Jul 2020 - Oral submissions presented to the Education and Workforce Select Committee
6 Aug 2020 - Select Committee Deliver their report to Parliament
You can keep up to date on the progress of the bill below.
Screen Industry Workers Bill - An update
In March 2022, Minster of Workplace Relations and Safety Hon Michael Wood indicated that the Bill would proceed to Second Reading in the second half of 2022. If successful, this would mean that the Bill would come into effect in December 2022.
Watch this space!