Neighbours industrial dispute flares again
Negotiations between the union representing the crew on Neighbours and FremantleMedia Australia have reached a stalemate and the union is now seeking a ballot of its members in order to begin an industrial campaign.
The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance has asked the Fair Work Commission for the right to hold a Protected Order Ballot.
This means the Australian Electoral Commission would conduct a ballot of MEAA members, probably within four weeks. The industrial action could include short work stoppages or refusing to work overtime.
“We are saddened it has come to this but we have been bargaining and discussing with FremantleMedia since October 2012, “ MEAA Victorian branch secretary Louise Connor told IF.
“We have made genuine attempts to resolve the issues. We are ready, willing and able to meet with Fremantle and we hope it can be settled.”
Connor said crew members are seeking a 3% annual increase on paid rates for each year of the new agreement but the producers are offering 3% on the minimum wages.
Crew are also asking for up to one week’s additional annual leave, are objecting to a move by FMA to have sick leave based on a working day of 7.6 hours as opposed to the regular 10 hour shift, and want the agreement to make provision for those who are long-time employees on the show.
The rules require at least half the union members employed on the show to take part in the ballot and of those, a majority must vote in favour.
“We are confident we will get a yes result,” Connor said. The exact form of industrial action would be determined by the members.
The dispute was aired in public last year when the MEAA accused FMA of being the only major production company to have walked away from the Motion Picture Production Agreement (MPPA), which expired on January 1 and is currently being negotiated with Screen Producers Australia.
Fremantle said it would abide by the BREA award, the federal industrial Award for employees engaged in film and television production.