Statement from Canberra Times, Illawarra Mercury and Newcastle Herald House Committees

MEAA members are disappointed to see Australian Community Media executive chairman Anthony Catalano make disparaging remarks about hard-working and dedicated staff at his business, who he described as “delusional” and out of touch with reality.

At all times, staff at the Canberra Times, Illawarra Mercury and Newcastle Herald have sought only two things out of this negotiation – a fair pay increase keeping in line with cost of living and the retention of current conditions.

We have never requested, as Mr Catalano incorrectly suggests, an increase of 3 per cent. Members are still waiting for ACM to make a pay offer.

After having to seek the Fair Work Commission’s intervention to force ACM to bargain with us, we have taken a respectful and measured approach to reaching an agreement, meeting seven times with the company and at every meeting have been willing to negotiate the company’s log of claims. The enterprise bargaining agreement expired in June 2020.

Members are seeking to retain their conditions in the agreement for both current and future staff, while remaining open to removing and amending conditions which no longer apply to the newsrooms. We believe this is in the best interest of maintaining strong newsrooms of committed journalists.

Members in the Illawarra Mercury and Newcastle Herald newsrooms have already had copyright payments unilaterally removed by the company weeks prior to Christmas 2020, and the company now seeks to remove the same payment for staff at The Canberra Times. Members are opposed to these reductions which amount to a real wage cut.

We simply seek a fair deal for the work we do to remain the trusted voice for our communities through natural disasters and the highly disruptive COVID-19 pandemic.

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