'The Hobbit Dispute': Organizing Through Transnational Alliances


  • Carol Jess Victoria University of Wellington




Film industry, Global Union Federations, globalisation, the Hobbit, New Zealand, neo-liberalism, transnational alliances, trade unions.,


It is now seen as a common sense strategy for trade unions to organise at a transnational level, in order to attempt to counter the global nature of capital in the neo-liberal political economy. Events surrounding the controversy over the location of the production of the two Hobbit movies in New Zealand in 2010 highlight how the forces of labour remain embedded in the nation state. This location of labour within the institutions, history and culture of particular nations, combined with a non-neutral state actor, can negate the power of transnational alliances, leaving labour powerless against threats of capital flight. This paper will seek to explore the transnational strategy adopted by the actors’ Global Union Federation (GUF), the International Federation of Actors (FIA). In doing so, it will use the framework for analysis of such alliances suggested by Brookes (2013). It will also attempt to explain how a brief two- week period in New Zealand (NZ) industrial relations has come to be seen as a failure of trade unionism and global action, even while the objective of that action, collective bargaining, was achieved.