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MEAA Proposal good for the screen industry

NZ Actors Equity

Media Release

19 October, 2005

MEAA Proposal good for the screen industry says actor’s union

A stronger local actors union would be good for the screen industry, New Zealand Actors Equity said today.

Equity was responding to claims and concerns raised by opponents of the proposal that Equity join with the Australian Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance, an umbrella group of creative unions. The proposal would see Equity unite with the Alliance which would provide essential financial and organisational support.

"The New Zealand acting community is at a distinct disadvantage to our trans-Tasman neighbours," said Equity organiser, Teresa Brown "Basic rates of pay and conditions have remained static since the early-1990s. Actors work with no minimum rates or enforceable conditions of work. This merge with the Alliance will give Equity the resources it needs to do something about these issues.”

Opponents of the proposal argue that offshore productions would go elsewhere if actors received better conditions. However, Brown says this argument is misinformed. “This supposes that it is the cost of local acting talent that brings overseas productions here. In fact, this is just one of many factors that offshore producers take into account and is by no means as important an issue as, for example, the value of our dollar.”

Opponents also claim that local actors will lose their independence. Brown says that isn’t true. "We have different labour laws to Australia and that won't change. New Zealand actors would still retain the right to look after their own affairs and issues. It is in the union’s best interests to build a sustainable local industry and see its members employed."

“The Alliance are offering local actors the opportunity to make a positive change in the industry here. By empowering the acting community through a more effective actors union we will be strengthening the industry as a whole, through more equitable conditions and better training opportunities.”

ENDS

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