MEAA calls for minimum pay rates

31 October, 2014 by Don Groves

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance will press for mandatory minimum rates for technicians employed in Australian film and TV dramas and in big offshore productions that location in Oz.

The union argues that rates have long stagnated, forcing some skilled, experienced crew to leave the industry.


“It is not sustainable for the industry to rely on crew rates staying the same indefinitely. We need to work together as an industry to address this problem,” the MEAA says in a circular to members.

The union aims to set benchmark market rates of pay in the Motion Picture Production Agreement (MPPA) being negotiated with Screen Producers Australia and in the template MEAA Offshore Production Agreement for international productions that shoot here.

The MEAA has circulated a draft of the minimum rates for a 50-hour week based on consultations with crew, heads of department and other guilds, and is seeking feedback from members.

For most categories there would be different rates for starters (first-timers in that role) and for seasoned professionals.

“Some departments have different minimums for experienced and inexperienced crew,” it says. “The rates may be lower than the amount that some crew can command. The intention is to set a floor – an enforceable minimum rate – not to reflect the whole range of rates.”

As examples of the draft rates, DoPs would be paid a minimum of $8,000 per week for offshore productions and $4,000 for local features and TV dramas. Camera operators would get $4,500 and $2,800 respectively.

The pro rates for production designers on features would be $5,350 and $4,000, and for art directors $4,000 and $2,500.

The union will seek annual increases in line with the rises in the minimum wage so they hold their value against the cost of living.

Observing that some low-budget productions use the current MPPA rates or pay less than market rates, it is calling for a budget threshold below which the current MPPA scales would apply as a minimum.

Once a production is above the threshold, the market rates would apply as a minimum. Feedback from members is being sought on the proposed budget thresholds.