Time Warner has launched the kind of assault on workers in the local television and industry that they wouldn't contemplate in Hollywood. Why? Because Hollywood workers are protected by strong and organised unions.

In Hollywood even actors like Tom Cruise are members of the Screen Actors Guild. A film studio like Time Warner cannot sign heavyweight actors like Cruise or Angelina Jolie without going through the SAG first.

The craft unions are also powerful because they provide film industry workers with health insurance and other benefits. A movie sound technician , for example, is likely to work for several different studios and production companies in the course of a year, never being with any one of them long enough to qualify for benefits. Instead the union provides those benefits.

Here in little old New Zealand Time Warner wants to continue doing things differently. The media giant (who Jackson laughably claims has acted 'very honourably') ) have launched a very nasty anti-union campaign to prevent workers acquiring the kind of conditions their colleagues enjoy in the United States.

It has been aided its venomous campaign by a local media that has , once again, highlighted how reactionary it is. Once again, it has chosen to go into bat for the rich and powerful.

On Breakfast this morning co-host Peter Williams could be heard asking John Key why New Zealand seemed to be 'overrun' with industrial disputes these days. Williams low opinion of unions could not have been more clear.

For actors like Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward Lealand this has been a particularly unpleasant experience. Malcolm has gone from being lauded for her performances on the hit show Outrageous Fortune to being the subject of vitriol on talkback radio.

I heard one caller saying that actors like Malcolm should be 'grateful' to Peter Jackson for providing work. Yes, King Peter is in his counting house counting all his money and we should all be 'thankful' for the 'blessings' of King Peter.

Thanks to the hysteria whipped up by Jackson and co, Malcolm recently had to be escorted from a restaurant for her own safety.

Is anyone holding Peter Jackson or his mate Richard Taylor to account for this? Or are they untouchable? Are media organisations like TVNZ and TV3 just too busy chasing media-shy Warner studio executives?

And is anyone surprised by the limp response of the Labour Party?

Phil Goff, the self-proclaimed 'champion of the working class', has been nowhere to be seen.

The Labour Party is claiming it is not taking sides in the dispute. This is expedient nonsense. By refusing to back the workers and the actors' unions, it has taken sides. Indeed it seems to be suggesting that Time Warner should be given even more generous tax subsidies - so it and Jackson can make even more money at the taxpayers expense. This is nothing more than corporate welfare.

Just a few weeks ago we heard Phil Goff telling the Labour Party conference that Labour was the party that championed the interests of workers.

Words are cheap. Hey Phil - don't talk the talk if you won't walk the walk.

For an excellent analysis of the weak response of the Labour Party please read the article by Bryce Edwards here.


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