Neighbours crew dispute settled
The Neighbours crew today voted overwhelmingly to accept an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, ending a long dispute which sparked a 15-minute stop-work meeting by union members in May, the first industrial action in 25 years.
There were 86 votes in favour of the EBA, with just two against. The deal is expected to be registered with Fair Work Australia in about two weeks.
FremantleMedia Australia and the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, which represents nearly half of the show’s crew, both hailed the agreement.
"We’re very happy that after reaching a stalemate with the MEAA we’ve been able to negotiate with the independent representatives for the successful introduction of the Neighbours EBA,” said an FMA spokesman.
“It is a ground-breaking agreement for television. We can now all look forward to working together under the new agreement on our much-loved and enduring program.”
MEAA Victorian branch secretary Louise Connor told IF, “We are very pleased with the agreement. We have sorted out a lot of grey areas including the classification of jobs, which has been modernised, and minimum wage conditions.”
Last year the MEAA accused FMA of being the only major production company to have walked away from the Motion Picture Production Agreement (MPPA), which covers film and TV crew and expired on January 1 2013. The MEAA and Screen Producers Australia are in the midst of negotiating a new MPPA deal.
Fremantle is abiding by the Broadcasting and Recorded Entertainment Award, the federal industrial Award for employees engaged in film and television production in Australia.
The union sought a 3% annual wage increase for the Neighbours crew on paid rates but FMA would not budge from its position of a 3% rise on minimum wages.
The production company did agree to abandon a move to have sick leave based on a working day of 7.6 hours as opposed to the regular 10 hour shift.
Connor said both parties agreed to revisit the EBA at the end of next year, by which time she hopes there will be a new MPPA which will give technicians annual increases based on paid rates.