Since June 2021, Australian freelancers for The Guardian have been campaigning for a collective agreement to codify minimum rates and fair work conditions. There have been some wins along the way, but Guardian management still won't give freelancers a say in how they are engaged. Guardian is beginning to fall behind as other publications negotiate with their freelance contributors as a collective. Join your fellow freelancers in writing to management to demand a fair go.
“An individualised system of precarious labour will inevitably result in adverse outcomes for the most vulnerable and isolated workers.”
What we’re seeking:
Collective bargaining and representation
Fair minimum rates with annual increases to keep up with the cost of living
Superannuation for a secure retirement
Timely payment following submission
Other rights and protections as outlined in the MEAA Freelance Charter
- June 2021 – Freelancers at the Guardian start meeting along with MEAA representatives after discovering that pay rates were as low as $170 per article for some sections.
- July 2021 – Freelancers pass a resolution in solidarity with in-house staff: ‘As MEAA members and freelancers, we are committed to working with staff at the Guardian to improve pay and conditions for staff and freelancers together.’
- July 2021 – Guardian lifts freelance rates slightly but some contributions continue to be paid less than the published rates.
- Sept 2021 – Over 270 contributors and supporters sign an open letter calling on Guardian management to codify minimum freelance rates and conditions in a formal agreement with the MEAA. Guardian declines to meet with our elected delegates.
- Early 2022- Freelancers plan for a Twitter Day of Action on 31 May 2022. At the last minute, Guardian management agrees to a meeting with freelance delegates and MEAA representatives.
- 25 May 2022- Guardian management (managing director Dan Stinton and managing editor Alison Rourke) meet with freelance delegates and MEAA representatives. Dan Stinton says he understands why we want a collective agreement but he needs approval from the UK head office and will get back to us after his UK trip.
- July 2022- Guardian management responds, refusing to negotiate a collective agreement.
- Late 2022- MEAA freelancers make meaningful progress in improving rates and conditions at other publications. Nine commits to a new freelance policy with minimum rates, kill fees, and payment within 30 days of acceptance, rather than on publication. Private Media (Crikey, The Mandarin, Smart Company) agrees to begin negotiating a freelance agreement once its staff agreement is finalised.
- Jan 2023 – Overland becomes the first Australian publication to endorse the MEAA Freelance Charter, signing a collective agreement with freelance contributors.
- June 2023 – In light of progress at other publications, freelancers write to Guardian management to request a meeting to negotiate a freelance agreement.
- Guardian management respond, refusing again to negotiate a freelance agreement.