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NZ performers vote YES to join Australian union

NZ performers vote YES to join Australian arts union

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance & NZ Actors Equity

Thursday 22nd December, 2005

In an historic decision, New Zealand performers have voted overwhelmingly to join forces with Australian performers to fight for better conditions in the performance industry.

This decision has the support of the performers’ union, Actors Equity, which is currently part of New Zealand’s National Distribution Union.

In a poll of both union and non-union performers, 82% of New Zealand performers voted to open a branch office of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance in New Zealand.

The high level of support encourages local Union Organiser Teresa Brown. “ It is an exciting time for the industry and providing a strong voice for our membership can only be of benefit to all involved”.

“This is an exciting opportunity for performers to work together to build a vibrant industry in New Zealand and Australia, and the strong support for the proposal shows that New Zealand performers want a strong union to represent their interests,” said Simon Whipp, director of the Equity section of the Alliance in Australia.

“Australian performers welcome the decision, which cements strong ties between Australian and New Zealand performers and acknowledges what is an increasingly international industry and the realities of the harsh working environment for performers in both countries.”

“Despite the hostile response from a variety of producer interests, casting agents and some performers’ agents, the overwhelming support for the move clearly confirms the will of the performers in improving their representation in New Zealand,” Whipp said.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions also welcomed the decision. “Acting is an important industry for New Zealand,” said CTU Secretary Carol Beaumont. “Our successes in the creative industries must extend to decent pay and conditions for the workers involved – including improved health and safety conditions and minimum codes for employment in the industry.”

Note for journalists:

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance is the union and professional organisation which covers workers in the media, entertainment, sports and arts industries in Australia. The Alliance will establish a New Zealand Branch with a President and an Executive elected by and from New Zealand members. The President would represent New Zealand performers on the Alliance Executive. The Alliance will establish an office in New Zealand and engage a full-time organiser. NZ members of the Alliance will be entitled to all rights and responsibilities as any other member, including the ability to participate in the development of policies that affect them and their work.

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