Journalists at SMH, Age strikes for wages

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Journalists from some of Australia’s largest newspapers are on strike over a long-running wage dispute.

Several hundred union members at Nine mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, WAToday and The Brisbane Times the first editorial team stops working on Thursday before 24 hours.

Journalists are pushing for a 15.5% pay rise in three years.

Nine has declined to comment. But at a meeting with all staff on Monday afternoon, James Chessell, director of the publishing division, briefed reporters on a revised two-year offer consisting of 4 percent in the first year, followed by 3.5 percent.

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Journalists who earn more than $170,000 a year get 2.5 percent more each year.

“It is critical to strike a balance between the interests of the wider Nine group, the significant headwinds that publishing faces and the interests of the staff,” he said at the meeting.

The strike could rise to a 48-hour hiatus if no progress is made, confirms Mark Phillips of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

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“The ball is in management’s court to make a better offer,” he said.

Other bottlenecks include automatic grading progress for junior reporters, minimum standards for freelancers, and recognition of a charter of editorial independence.

In August, Nine announced record profits for 2021/22 with a statutory net income of $315 million, up 71 percent from the previous full year.

The publishing department, including mastheads The age and The Sydney Morning Heraldsaw pre-tax profits rise 53 percent to $62 million.

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The company also paid a record dividend to shareholders of 14 cents per share.

The results released two weeks ago have hardened the resolve of union members, Mr Phillips said.

– MONKEY