Hobbit movie outsourcing causes NZ trade union anger

Published:  27 May at 6 PM
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Special effects company Weta Digital, based in Wellington, New Zealand, has requested 526 work visas for overseas visual effects workers engaged in the Hobbit movie’s production.

Although Weta has only requested that New Zealand Immigration give approval of the visas on principle, the Council of Trade Union’s head, Helen Kelly, is accusing the company of having no commitment to local industries. According to Kelly, the production company is refusing to hire local talent.

The Immigration department has announced that it will consult with the government's Work and Income department as well as with the unions involved before it takes any decision on the request, but the process is likely to delay the release of the long-awaited prequel to the hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Speaking for Weta, general manager Tom Greally insisted that the company was fully committed to New Zealand, having hired 70 per cent of its long-term staff from a pool of residents and New Zealand citizens.

The 390 temporary work visas, he added, were either extensions for overseas workers already employed or for a smaller number of new workers, and the remainder were also renewals for essential staff. According to Greally, Kiwis with relevant experience and expertise were already working on the movie, and the company had used Seek and other online job websites to promote the jobs available in the New Zealand community.

In response to criticisms over the number of trainee roles available, Greally stated that the company policy is to regularly take on suitable trainees and juniors. No-one mentioned the jobs created to serve the massive boom in tourism as a result of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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