In 2000 the Employment Relations Act was passed into law in New Zealand, replacing the Employment Contracts Act. The bill proved controversial: some suggested it placed unfair obligations on employers, while others claimed it restored much-needed rights to workers that had been undermined. This Assignment episode explores both angles. Among them, business owner John Holm argues that he shouldn’t be told how to treat his employees, while union leaders and Alliance Party MP Laila Harré all argue that without the bill, workers will continue to be exploited.
In this edition of her 2005 TV series, broadcaster Kim Hill interviews then union leader Andrew Little. Little is advocating for a five percent pay increase for members of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (now E tū). Little bemoans lack of investment in training and argues for "growing the real value of wages" in a booming economy, while Hill grills the campaign’s potential effect on businesses and Little’s political ambitions. Little went on to become President of the Labour Party. In 2011 he was elected as a list MP, and led the party from 2014 to 2017.
This 1948 documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed for the National Film Unit by New Zealand’s first female film director, Margaret Thomson. It shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city.
Self-taught editor Cushla Dillon moved from shorter works to features with Harry Sinclair's Topless Women Talk about their Lives: both the bite-sized TV series then the movie, for which she won her first NZ film award. Dillon has gone on to edit shorts, documentaries, and many more features — including The Price of Milk, Orphans & Kingdoms, and award-winning documentary This Way of Life.
English-born journalist Gordon Bick arrived in New Zealand in 1964. Within two years he was producing current affairs show Compass. His Kiwi career came to an abrupt halt when he resigned in protest over claimed government interference in a special about decimal currency. Bick put his side of the story in book The Compass Affair, and crossed the Tasman to produce current affairs for the ABC and Channel Nine.