Talks to resume on Neighbours dispute
A long-running dispute between the Neighbours crew and FremantleMedia Australia could be headed for a resolution this week.
Reps of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance and FMA are due to meet in Melbourne on Thursday.
The MEAA has been trying to negotiate a new deal since last August. “Our people are getting frustrated,” MEAA Victorian branch secretary Louise Connor told IF. “We would like to see some movement on the major issues. We are hopeful of a breakthrough.”
Last year the union 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.
Connor said the union is seeking a 3% annual wage increase for the Neighbours crew for each year of the new agreement, and up to one week’s additional annual leave. Crew members are employed for 40 weeks a year on the show and get three weeks leave but due to the production schedules are unable to work on other shows, she said.
Technicians are resisting 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.
Connor also said the MEAA wants the Neighbours crew, many of whom have worked on the show for many years, to be treated as ongoing employees.
Asked for comment, an FMA spokesman said, “All are matters for negotiation and we look forward to being round the table together soon."