For the past year, MEAA freelancers at Nine publishing (Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times, and WA today) have been fighting for an agreement with Nine that secures fair minimum rates and conditions. MEAA members are fighting to secure:
Fair minimum rates and annual rate increases
Timely payment following submission
Superannuation for a secure retirement
“Kill fees” for commissions that are cancelled by the outlet
Retention of all copyright
Indemnity from defamation
Respect for the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics
Clear dispute resolution options
- March- July 2022: In-house staff at Nine called for minimum standards for freelancers as part of their Enterprise Agreement negotiations.
- August – September 2022: Freelancers at Nine took industrial action alongside staff, by posting for #FairShareNine on social media.
- Settlement of the staff Enterprise Agreement resulted in a commitment from Nine to write its first ever policy for freelance minimum standards of engagement, in consultation with MEAA members. Nine management was vague about what they would be prepared to include in the policy, and resisted committing to minimum rates of pay.
- October 2022: 57 freelancers who contribute to Nine publishing wrote individual emails to Managing Director James Chessell, to explain why minimum rates of pay for freelancers were crucial to include in this policy.
- In response, Nine finally committed to considering minimum rates of pay (although did not commit to what the minimum rate would be) and provided a draft policy. The policy included agreement to MEAA claims like kill fees, but fell short in some crucial areas. A major area of concern was a continued policy for payment on publication, which meant freelancers could continue to wait months or even years after submitting work before receiving payment.
- November 2022: Freelancers discussed and provided detailed feedback to the proposed policy, and the in-house MEAA delegates wrote to management with proposed changes.
- MEAA members wrote an open letter to Nine management calling for the policy to include payment on submission, and a fair minimum rate of $1 per word with annual increases. The letter was signed by 225 freelancers.
- December 2022: In response to pressure from the letter, Nine management moved and committed to pay within 30 days of acceptance of the work and a minimum rate across all sections of Nine Publishing. This policy, which Nine is calling “final” is a huge win for freelancers at Nine and across the whole industry but fails to meet some important MEAA claims including $1 per word minima and annual fee increases to keep up with the cost of living.