Nine’s newspaper journalists have accepted the updated offer from management, meaning they will not strike as planned this week.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the industry trade union’s Adam Portelli confirmed to Mumbrella this afternoon that Nine’s journalists across its metro titles, which make up around 90% of its staff, accepted the offer.
In a statement, the MEAA said: “MEAA members at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and WA Today have accepted an improved offer in their long running enterprise bargaining negotiations with Nine Publishing which owns these mastheads.”
“This afternoon, journalists, sub-editors, photographers and cartoonists agreed to a deal which includes a 4% wage increase in 2022 and a 3.5% increase in 2023 as well as expanded career progression meaning many lower and mid-tier graded journalists will now and in coming years also receive an additional increase of up to 5%.”
Nine’s improved, and final offer includes a two, rather than one-year agreement, with a 4% increase in the first year for graded journalists (those earning up to $170,000), and a 3.5% increase in year two. The deal would be backdated to the start of July, expiring on 30 June 2024.
Other highlights include an extension of auto pay progression from Grade 4 to Grade 5, as well as the creation and implementation of a freelancer policy. It is understood that extending the automatic pay progression from grade four to grade five is a major sticking point in the updated offer, with this automatic progression taking 24 months.
Adam Portelli, director of MEAA Media said: “MEAA members today achieved an impressive result securing strong increases, particularly for younger staff who now have a system of career progression and additional increases baked into the agreement. This agreement now provides the industry benchmark for these career progression increases.
“Journalists have provided an essential service over the last few years, keeping us informed through the pandemic, bushfire and floods. It’s only fair their role has been recognised in this agreement.”
“Members wanted a fair increase, their commitment to ethics respected and a more diverse newsroom.”
“Freelancers in particular deserve more certainty in their working lives, and we will continue our campaign to ensure that contributors – at Nine and elsewhere – are provided with minimum standards.”
Managing director of Nine Publishing, James Chessell made in-person briefings to staff this morning in both Melbourne and Sydney, telling staff to make their decision ahead of proposed strikes across its mastheads at the end of this week.
Chessell told staff the 5% they were seeking was not achievable, and that the improved offer underlines the company’s commitment to journalism.
Chessell said the offer is now “well above” what Nine had anticipated when going into the negotiation process, and is “in excess of what we have budgeted”.
“Going into a volatile 12 months, it puts us in a more difficult precarious position than I would like. To think the coming 12 months will be as rosy as the past 12 months is wishful thinking. This is why this is a final offer.”
Nine was approached for comment.