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Screen Unions Welcome Bryson Decision

16 June 2005

Screen Unions Welcome Bryson Decision

Two unions working in the screen industry - Actor's Equity and the New Zealand Writers Guild - welcomed today's employment decision by the Supreme Court. The Court reaffirmed an Employment Court finding that former Weta model-maker James Bryson was in fact an employee and not an independent contractor.

"This is common sense decision," said Actors Equity organiser Teresa Brown. "Given the facts of the case and the relevant laws Bryson was clearly an employee."

Brown pointed out that the decision would have an effect on the entire industry. "The screen sector is organised almost exclusively around the contractor relationship so obviously this case will cause some re-evaluation of the working relationships."

"But it's important that people don't panic," pointed out Writers Guild acting Executive Director Dominic Sheehan. "Any claims that this decision will devastate the local screen industry are inaccurate. The original finding of the Employment Court was based on the specific circumstances of the case. Today's decision, therefore, does not make a blanket change to the way contractors are engaged.

However, there are some others working in similar circumstances to Bryson who will be affected by the ruling. If anyone is unsure about their status they should contact their local union or industry organisation."

The unions are planning a series of screen industry meetings to answer any questions that workers may have concerning their employment status.


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