Journalists act against Murdoch's attack
By Tully Bates
ADELAIDE — Attempts by Rupert Murdoch's Advertiser newspaper to lure journalists away from their union have met a poor response: only 34 out of 200 have left the union and signed individual contracts.
According to Stephen Spence, secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, "Management is offering contracts to selected employees. One of the conditions of the contract is that the employees resign from the union. As the award which covers the employees is an award for union members, only the journalists who sign the contract are no longer covered by the award."
Management declined to give the union a copy of the contract, and apart from the non-union clause, the union doesn't know what it contains. It speculates that employees are being given financial incentives to sign the contracts.
Work bans have been in place since November 13, while on November 15 a stop-work meeting was held in response to the contracts. Union members were locked out after the meeting. Management demanded an undertaking that workers would not take part in further action. When news of the lockout was received by journalists around the country, many walked off the job in support. Journalists picketed the Advertiser until management backed down.
Spence says that the union is concerned this is a premeditated attempt by News Limited to smash the AJA (Australian Journalists Association) section of the Alliance. "It's an attempt to take control over industrial issues out of the hands of the workers."