This is a open letter in response to the people who ‘can’t stand still’ Federal Council media reps – Gina McColl, Stuart Washington and Philippa McDonald. The author Fran Molloy co-ordinates Freeline.net.au, an online network of Australian freelance writers, and is a long-time union member.
From: Fran Molloy
Date: 7 March 2014 17:44
Subject: Re: A message from Stuart Washington, Gina McColl & Philippa McDonald
To: MEAA Federal Management Committee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Freeline Sydney <email@example.com>
Hi there, Gina, Stuart and Philippa,
I am disappointed that MEAA Media members hear about this move from you, without the prospect of making any contribution to the decision.
Why are members not being asked to vote on a proposal that essentially takes away their right to vote for the Federal Secretary?
This move will reduce the ability for members to have a say. Yet it seems the members so affected, have no prospect of contribution to the decision.
As a freelance journalist, I have never had the opportunity to vote for a person to represent the interests of freelancers on Federal Council.
We have no branch, no structure and no formal representation. Several Federal Council members are indeed freelancers – but they were not elected to represent freelancers, nor can they, as there are few avenues in place for basic representation; it’s all very ad-hoc. I am happy to speak to you at any time to give some examples. Jane Canaway, a hard-working Federal Councillor, can also explain the issues she faces in helping freelancers achieve visibility and support. The structures are not there to sustain this.
I understand that you all give up your time voluntarily to the roles you perform and I do appreciate the significant effort that you make on behalf of members. However, I note that all of you work for large, mainstream media organisations and therefore represent members who have similar industrial issues.
For the last decade or so, I have worked with a number of freelance journalists to attend meetings and discussions with various representatives with the aim of putting in place better representation for our colleagues – so far, very little has come of this. I have minutes of meetings which I am very happy to forward to you, where the current Federal Secretary promised various actions including the setup of better freelance representation, to no avail.
For the first time in decades, there is the real prospect of a new Federal Secretary who may actually act on these promises. However it seems this may be stymied by a proposal to replace this role with a non-elected position.
I believe there are over 1,000 freelance journalist members of the MEAA; at present, they are very poorly represented by their union in my opinion – even though the future of journalism is very likely to weight more heavily towards freelance than ever.
We do indeed need to be fleet of foot, and embrace change. A new Federal Secretary to replace a person who has held the role for many many years will deliver that change. And at the same time, this position will be an elected role, not an appointment lacking accountability to the members.
I urge you to reconsider this decision.
co-ordinator of ‘Freeline’ group of freelance journalists
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— MEAAneedsDemocracy (@MEAAneedsDmocy) March 11, 2014