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MEAA wins right to negotiate a collective agreement on behalf of AFL Media journalists

AFL Media logoThe union body representing journalists has won the right to negotiate a collective agreement on behalf of journalists employed by the AFL Media after the Fair Work Commission ruled that a majority of employees were in favour of collection negotiations to set their working conditions.

The win follows the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) working closely with members employed by the AFL Media to secure the outcome.

On the win MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said: “This is the first time a group of workers in an in-house digital news production business have gained the right to collectively negotiate terms and employment conditions on matters affecting their working lives.

“AFL Media employees work long and hard all year to meet the needs of the news cycle meaning their industrial needs are unique and need to be recognised by a separate industrial instrument. We know that the season never truly stops and the AFL’s editorial staff step in all year to meet the broader media’s expectations.”

It follows the AFL claiming the employees of AFL Media were communications personnel rather than journalists, a definition which was disputed by the MEAA. In August The Age reported AFL chief Gillion McLachlan saying: “I think it’s a bit of teething pains about bringing a group of editorial staff into a different environment. That’s the challenge, about whether they are working in sports administration or whether they’re journalists.”

The deal paves for way for the MEAA to become involved in other online news operations, that have fallen outside traditional media outlets.

AFL Media was established as the league’s independent media arm in 2012, with the team responsible for operating the AFL’s website and publishing its match-day publication the AFL record. The operation employs 115 staff, of which 25 are editorial.

Warren said: “The win further consolidates AFL Media as an in house editorially independent news service. MEAA members in the AFL’s media department will now be better recognised as media professionals and part of our fast-changing media landscape.”

“The Fair Work Commission decision will bring AFL Media employees and the AFL to the table, which means the AFL are required to bargain in good faith with their employees. AFL Media journalists look forward to joining the AFL players and umpires in collectively negotiating with the AFL for fair employment conditions.”

Maurice Blackburn represented MEAA members at the Fair Work Commission.

Miranda Ward  

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