Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Industry-first EBA voted in at PRH; FWC dispute settled

The first union-negotiated enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) in Australian publishing history has been voted in at Penguin Random House Australia (PRH).

PRH delegates in the editorial and publicity departments have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of the EBA, according to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), which bargained on behalf of staff.

The EBA enshrines pay increases for editorial and publicity staff in the first year between 3% and 6%, and 3% per year thereafter. Other terms and conditions covered in the agreement include time off in lieu, transparent pay grades, an annual grading review process and remuneration for higher duties.

Adam Portelli, MEAA’s regional director for Victoria and Tasmania, told Books+Publishing the EBA should come into effect ‘in the next couple of months’, once the agreement has been approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). Staff can also expect wage increases to be backpaid from 1 July once the agreement has been approved.

PRH did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Last year’s Books+Publishing employment survey found that in 2018 the average salary for full-time editorial staff was $62,347 per year, having grown by 8% from $57,900 in 2013. Marketing and publicity staff salaries have shown little change in five years, with the average full-time salary for this group growing only marginally from $60,100 in 2013 to $60,207 in 2018. The report also found that, across the industry, ‘a staggering 40% of employees working overtime are not getting compensated by either being paid or taking time in lieu’.

FWC dispute settled

In a separate matter, the dispute between PRH and editor Bethany Patch over an alleged breach of PRH’s social media policy has now been resolved. MEAA thanked supporters and said in a statement: ‘The matter has now been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.’

The FWC may prohibit the publication of evidence and restrict those present at a hearing from disclosing the outcome if it decides that the matter ‘involves sensitive or confidential evidence’.


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