The SIWA Handbook for Screen Workers provides a clear overview of what the Screen Industry Workers Act is, and how it affects you as a contractor.
Click below to download your copy.
What is SIWA?
The Screen Industry Workers Act is a new framework where screen workers who are contracting within the screen industry are now legally protected by a set of minimum level working conditions.
How? See three important points outlined below:
1. SIWA firstly introduces NINE new Rules for Individual Contracts:
- These apply automatically to ALL screen production workers. They MUST be adhered to by their engagers.
- engagers must follow ‘fair-process’ rules when engaging a screen worker;
- new mandatory terms must be included in ALL Individual Contracts.
*See further below on this page for more details on the 9 new rules, or read the SIWA HANDBOOK - Chapter 2.2: "How Does SIWA Affect Your Individual Contract? - Nine New Rules".
2. Second, SIWA introduces "Collective Contracts"
- The Act now allows screen workers to come together as a group (i.e. a “collective”) when bargaining for better group terms (where previously this was prohibited). This produces legally binding “Collective Contracts”.
What are they?
- they contain legally binding minimum terms & conditions of work that apply to the whole group (including in such areas as: minimum rates of pay, hours of work, and other working conditions).
*See SIWA HANDBOOK - Chapter 3.3: "What are the Mandatory Terms that must appear in a Collective Contract"
How do they work?
- think of a Collective Contract like a safety net. If one applies to you, or the work you do, then the terms in your “Individual Contract” (the one that applies just to you) must be as good as or better than the terms in the applicable Collective Contract.
- to make life easier for you, this protection is mostly automatic!
*See FAQ’s Q8: How Does the Collective Contract “safety net”Actually Work?
What will the minimums be?
- the Act itself does not state what the final or exact content of these mandatory Collective Contract terms will be. Those things will be developed & negotiated at the collective bargaining stage.
See SIWA HANDBOOK - PART 4: Collective Bargaining
There are two types of Collective Contracts that may apply to screen workers.
*Read a summary in the section below, or see the detail in the SIWA HANDBOOK - PART 3: Collective Contracts.
3. SIWA is Enforceable
These changes are not optional. They’re law. They must be abided by.
- many changes will legally apply automatically;
- if contract terms or arrangements are inconsistent with SIWA, they become legally unenforceable;
- costly penalties apply for breaches of many new obligations;
- SIWA introduces a new default dispute resolution system to help workers and their engagers resolve disputes relating to a “workplace relationship”, or an Individual or Collective Contract, or collective bargaining.
* see the three contract levels explained below.
Acts like an occupation-wide base contract.
Automatically applies to every screen production worker who does the work of an “occupational group” (and every engager who hires them to do that work).
- Creates agreed minimum terms & conditions of work for all workers in that occupational group. These act as a legal ‘safety net’. A screen worker’s individual Contract cannot contains terms less favourable.
- Applies universally (e.g. whether a person is a guild member or not, and whether they knew about or consented to the negotiations or not!).
- This is a type of collectively bargained contract. Meaning The Screen Guild (on behalf of all Technicians (production)) and engager organisations (on behalf of producers) will discuss, negotiate, and agree on the exact minimum terms and working conditions:
- ~Only a worker organisation (like The Screen Guild) can initiate bargaining for the first Occupational Contract for each occupational group. Its members get to vote first on whether to do this (or not).
- ~When the draft Occupational Contract is ready to ratified (become law), every eligible worker within the occupational group (not just guild members) will get to vote about whether to ratify, or keep bargaining.
- These contracts must be reviewed every 3-6 years to remain current.
*To get involved in establishing the first Occupational Contract, add yourself to the SIWA mailing list above or join The Screen Guild as a member.
Another type of Collective Contract.
The key difference is that it applies only to specific work engagements (e.g. specific work done on a specific production or for a specific engager).
- Even though you may be protected by an Occupational Contract, there may be situations where the circumstances or needs of a particular work engagement or production call for better (or simply additional) terms to what are set out in the base-line Occupational Contract.
- In these circumstances, a worker organisation (like the Screen Guild) can assist its members doing that specific work to collectively negotiate for fairer & more suitable terms. The result is called an “Enterprise Contract”.
- Each Enterprise Contract will expressly state which workers and engagers, & what “specified work” it applies to.
- For example, The Screen Guild and a single production could initiate bargaining for an Enterprise Contract which applies only to Screen Guild members working on that production. Or, for instance, the Enterprise Contract might say it applies only to Screen Guild members “doing electrical work during water tank shoots on this Production”.
- However, Enterprise Contracts CANNOT contain terms that are less advantageous to you than any base-line Occupational Contract that also applies to the same work. In other words, the “Occupational Contract” still sits underneath, as a bottom line or safety net.
- A final difference: Enterprise Contracts only cover members of the worker organisation that negotiates them (e.g. Screen Guild Members). Non-members may be permitted to join in some situations.
An “individual contract” refers to the contract between a single screen production worker and that worker’s engager (about the work they will perform for the engager on the screen production).
- An Individual Contract is negotiated between the engager (e.g. production company) and the individual screen worker.
- Screen workers can negotiate the terms of their own Individual Contract or use a negotiating agent to represent them.
To help screen workers when negotiating:
- Engagers must now follow new ”fair-process” rules listed in SIWA before entering (or varying) any Individual Contract
- Engagers must ensure an Individual Contract is in writing
- An Individual Contract can not contain terms less advantageous to the screen worker than any minimum terms outlined within any other Enterprise Contract or Occupational Contract which also applies to the contractor’s work (but the screen worker can negotiate for better terms!).
(Please Note: there are some New Minimum Rules for your individual contract that were applied from 30 December 2022! See the section 'How Does this Affect Your Individual Contract' below).
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 role does the Screen Industry Guild play?
There are two parties involved in our contractual working agreements, the Worker (Crew) and the Engager (Production Company).
The Screen Industry Guild is preparing to become a registered Worker Organisation. As a registered Worker Organisation, SIGANZ can:
- Represent its members (or screen production workers) if they consent and need assistance with a dispute about their contract or about their workplace relationship.
- Enter workplaces for certain monitoring & compliance purposes.
(*Read more on this in the SIWA Handbook - FAQ: Q15: When can a Worker Organisation enter my workplace? )
- Initiate collective bargaining on behalf of ALL technicians working in production to create (or make future changes to) their Occupational Contract.
*Read our summary of the bargaining process in the SIWA Handbook - Chapter 4.2: Collective Bargaining - How does it work? .
Get involved to find out how you can help yourself, and your fellows, achieve better terms and conditions.
*See SIWA Handbook - Chapter 4.1: Collective Bargaining - How do I get a say?).
- Assist its members who are working on a specific production to initiate and collectively bargain an Enterprise Contract if they need additional or better terms than in the Occupational Contract.
If a dispute arises between a screen worker and their engager about a contract or their workplace relationship, they should at first attempt to resolve their dispute themselves.
However if the situation requires:
- A Worker Organisation - can represent or speak on behalf of 1 or more screen workers (if the workers consent); and
- An Engager Organisation - can represent or speak on behalf of 1 or more engagers (if the engagers consent).
9 New Rules: How does this affect your Individual Contract?
While we all prepare for collective bargaining, if you’re a screen production worker (or you're engaging one) then NINE NEW RULES apply to your individual contracts. These came into effect when the Act became law on the 30 December 2022: (please see the SIWA Handbook for full descriptions of the rules below.)
- A new duty of good faith applies between parties to a "workplace relationship" (e.g. screen workers and their engagers). This means they must not do anything (directly or indirectly) to mislead or deceive each other (or that is "likely to" mislead or deceive).
This duty applies even before you've signed - e.g. when you are negotiating for your Individual Contract!
(When parties come to collectively bargain, then some additional good faith duties will also apply to their behaviour.)
- Engagers must ensure your Individual Contract is in writing.
- Engagers must follow certain fair-process rules before making or varying individual contracts (e.g. engagers must give you a copy for negotiation, must then give you a reasonable opportunity to seek independent legal advice (and tell you that you can seek this advice), must consider any issues you raise, and must respond to those in good faith).
- Individual Contracts must contain the following mandatory terms.
- A term saying that both parties will comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Human Rights Act.
- A clear explanation of the process for raising and responding to complaints about bullying, harassment or discrimination.
- A clear explanation of the processes available for resolving disputes (eg. either the default system or some other agreed process.)
- The period of notice (if any) and compensation (if any) for termination.
- Screen Guild Members: we have example Model Clauses you can view here for reference.
- Your contract, agreement, or other arrangement must not prevent you (or someone else on your behalf) from raising a complaint about bullying, harassment, or discrimination.
- You now have access to a dispute resolution system for any disputes about your contract or any problems relating to your workplace relationship. The Act introduces a default dispute resolution system, but the parties can agree to use another. For your added support, the Act gives you the right to ask a worker organisation (eg The Screen Guild) to act on your behalf in a dispute.
*Join The Screen Guild today, or read more about the new default dispute system in PART 5 of the SIWA Handbook.
- Employment status: All "screen production workers" are now contractors (not Employees) unless your contract expressly states you are an employee. (Previously this applied only to "film production workers").
- Retaliatory Contract Termination: Your contract can not be terminated (or non-renewed) in response to you exercising (or proposing to exercise) any right or power in your contract (or the Screen Industry Workers Act, or any other Act). Engagers face penalties if they do.
- Individual Contract terms must NOT be less favourable to you than those contained in any applicable Collective Contract (but they can be more favourable). If any terms are less favourable, then the Act makes them unenforceable!
- To make life easier, your Individual Contract will automatically contain any applicable Collective Contract Terms (i.e. you won't need to repeat them to get their protection).
Who does the Act apply to?
If you are a “screen production worker” or an "engager" of screen production workers then the Act applies to you.
Which means, for instance, that these changes apply right away to your Individual Contracts, and to your workplace relationships. Plus workers and engagers now have the ability to discuss & prepare for collective bargaining.
* To see if you are a “screen production worker”, using the four step test in Chapter 1.4 of the SIWA Handbook.
* To see if you are an “engager”, refer to the FAQ Q19 What is an "engager"?
When do these NINE new rules apply?
All of the above NINE Rules - apply from 30 December 2022 to all Individual Contracts (whether entered before or after that date).
Rule 4 - applies straight away to all Individual Contracts entered on or after 30 December 2022. But for any entered into before that date, they will have up to 12 months to include these terms.
Rule 9 - applies, but has no effect until an applicable Collective Contract is negotiated.
These 9 new rules (listed above) change the dynamic of the relationship between you as the contractor and the person or company contracting you. As outlined above:
They are law. They're not optional. They must be abided by. And they are enforceable.
The introduction of Collective Contracts means screen workers can come together as a group (i.e. a “collective”) to bargain for better group terms (where previously this was prohibited). This produces legally binding “Collective Contracts
These changes in dynamic are going to take some time for everyone to get used to. It’s important however that everyone understands what it all means and how it affects them.
We have published the SIWA HANDBOOK for SCREEN WORKERS that you can download at the top of this page, to help you understand what the Screen Industry Workers Act means, with links to additional information.
Please take the time to read and learn about the Screen Industry Workers Act because it is now an important part of your working life.
*The Screen Guild will be hosting information workshops to clarify how this affects you.
Will I get to have a say during Collective Bargaining?
Yes! We want you to engage with The Screen Guild during the consultation process, as Occupational Contracts are going to affect you regardless of whether you’re a member or not. The best way for you to engage with us is as a Screen Guild member.
In the lead up to collective bargaining, The Screen Guild will consult with as many Technicians working in production as possible so that we can put forward the best possible Collective Contract terms for you and your fellow technicians (whether members or not).
*(See more about how to have your say in Chapter 4.1 of the SIWA Handbook.)
Collective contracts must include these mandatory terms:
- Pay rates
- Break entitlements
- Public holiday expectations
- Hours of work (including maximums)
- Availability for work
- Minimum procedural requirements for:
~raising and responding to complaints about bullying, harassment, or discrimination; and
~resolving disputes relating to an Individual Contract.
- Termination (including notice periods & compensation (if any)).
*(See the Handbook Chapter 3.3: What are the Mandatory Terms that must appear in a Collective Contract for more details)
When the draft Occupational Contract is ready to be ratified (become law), every eligible worker who does the work of the occupational group (e.g. production technicians) will get to vote YES or NO to adoption (whether they are a guild member or not!). If a simple majority are in favour, the collective contract is ratified (becomes law). If the vote fails, the parties return to bargaining.
*(For more about when and if you can vote on Collective Contracts, see the SIWA Handbook - Chapter 4.4)
But I want to be able to get more than the minimum terms!
YES! You absolutely can and should!
Think of Occupational Contracts as setting a firm base for the industry to finally stand on. Occupational Contracts provide a safety net against unfair treatment and exploitation for every worker in the specified occupational group.
You can and should negotiate an individual Contract upwards from an Occupational Contract (or Enterprise Contract), based on what talent, experience or leverage you bring to that production.
When will Collective Bargaining begin and how long will it take?
The Act sets up necessary processes, timelines and applications for Collective Bargaining and there are plenty of formal details and procedures to get right.
*(see Chapter 4.2 of the SIWA Handbook for more information on these details.)
The Screen Guild will keep all production technicians advised about when The Screen Guild intends to apply to initiate collective bargaining for their first ever Occupational Contract (and where that Occupational Contract sits in the overall bargaining queue).
To stay up to date, be sure to join our SIWA mailing list HERE.
In the meantime, tell us what minimum Collective Contract terms you want the Screen Guild to bring to the bargaining table. You can message us about SIWA at email@example.com.
It’s good to remember that SPADA (who it is assumed will register as an “engager organisation” to represent engagers) is going to have to negotiate with every “worker organisation” representing an occupational group (The Screen Guild, DEGANZ, NZ Writers Guild, Equity NZ, etc).
For all parties, it is going to involve lots of time, multiple discussions, and money, which is still to be sourced. These limitations could mean that each Guild negotiates with SPADA ‘one at-a-time’. The Guilds are discussing the order of priority.
Having said that, the Screen Guild is hopeful that the first round of collective bargaining (either for production technicians, or another occupational group) should commence in 2024.
Collective contracts must have an expiry date between 3 – 6 years. This ensures that the industry regularly reviews minimum terms, rather than setting and forgetting.