I am tempted to comment that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, but I am sure that would be unfair.

Today the journalists’ union, the Media Alliance, announced its own project to collect online information on how freelancers are paid and how they are treated. The Alliance has also applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to collectively bargain for freelancers over obnoxious contracts, such as those on offer to freelancers from Fairfax and ACP. Here’s the relevant letter, with all the details of how to get involved. I’ll keep an eye on it.

Dear member 

There have been a few developments around the bad contracts issue for freelancers, so I thought I’d drop you a line. 

We had a good meeting of freelance members in Sydney a week or so ago, and many people contacted me to say that while they couldn’t make the meeting, they’re keen to be involved in improving the conditions of Australian freelancers. 

Here’s what the meeting decided: 

“Freelancers reject the onerous terms of the Pacific Magazines standard contract in its current form. We will work to raise concerns about Pacific Magazines’ disregard for the copyright, moral rights and liabilities of their quality journalists. These contracts are unfair – they stand to drive down conditions in our industry. We want to negotiate a fairer standard contract for contributors and we will work to build a campaign to secure improved rights of freelancers at Pacific Magazines.” 

Our next step is a teleconference of freelancers who contribute to Pacific Magazines, which will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, February 24) at 2pm (Sydney time). Contact Claire O’Rourke [email protected] or 02 9333 0935 to RSVP and get details of how to phone in. 

The Pacific Magazines issue is the first we will tackle with our new campaign: “Not for Free”

That’s the slogan name we came up with, but to kick off the campaign with a bang, I need your help. 

We want people to write in their experiences – of unfair contracts or treatment by media for publication on our campaign website, which is in development and will launch soon, hopefully within the next week or two. 

How do unfair contracts affect you? 

What will be the impact upon the quality of your work? 

What do you want to see media companies improve? 

Send in your stories, audio or video files or images to me as soon as you can – the more content we have the better our site will be. 

I’m happy to put (verified) pieces online with anonymous bylines, however our campaign will be taken more seriously if people will stand up and be counted as professional freelancers who wants these contracts to be fair. 

Let’s get our campaign moving – with your contributions it will sing. 

Kind regards, 

Claire O’Rourke


PS: In other news the Alliance’s application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to collectively bargain with Fairfax on behalf of freelancers has been broadened to include major publishers ACP, Pacific Magazines and News Ltd. Submissions should appear on the ACCC website soon, check the site here: http://tinyurl.com/yazp5rj