Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union members at the West Australian Newspaper have secured a new Enterprise Agreement that protects critical redundancy entitlements while guaranteeing a two per cent annual pay rise for four years.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty as the West’s owner SevenWest Media prepares to buy out the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times, AMWU printers have voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal after many months of negotiations.
AMWU Delegate Gary Small said the deal had provided the certainty that printers wanted, while retaining living standards and conditions.
“It was nearly a year of difficult negotiations, with a lot of stalling tactics from management. The company took us to the [Fair Work] Commission five times, and I’m still not really sure why,” he said.
“But I’d like to give credit to the whole bargaining team because this was a real team effort over 11 months of tough negotiations."
“We didn’t want to lose any conditions. We were fighting to keep the entitlements we’ve earned over many years and in good faith and we’re very happy with the result.”
Mr Small said the lead up to election was especially difficult because people didn’t trust Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals on industrial relations.
“We wanted a long agreement because people are worried that Workchoices is coming back and this deal means we are covered for the next four years.”
AMWU Lead Organiser and WA Print Secretary Alan Lindsey said the 121-19 yes vote showed union negotiators had got the balance right.
“It’s really pleasing to see our members leverage their long term shop-floor solidarity into a deal that keeps us moving forward while protecting what we’ve worked hard over many years to achieve,” he said.
“It’s a difficult time generally in WA at the moment. Throw the added uncertainty of the merger into the mix and our delegates and members should be very proud of what they’ve been able to achieve.
While the West Australian is an extremely profitable venture, with industry estimates putting profits at $1million profit per week, consolidation with the Sunday Times has caused significant concern.
Redundancies are already being forced on journalists, management and editorial staff. Tragically, some employees without the protection of an AMWU-negotiated EA are leaving with next to nothing after decades of service.
Job done: Delegate Gary Small with AMWU Lead Organiser Alan Lindsey