The Guardian 14 September, 2005

News Ltd lock out

An arm of US publishing giant, News Ltd, has locked out 40 Melbourne advertising reps who rejected AWAs in favour of a collective agreement.

The advertising staff from suburban Leader Newspapers were stood down when they imposed work bans in frustration at nine months of negotiation during which the company failed to make a single wage offer.

The breaking point came when Leader Newspapers refused to agree to a clause that would have provided for independent Industrial Relations Commission arbitration of workplace disputes.

Last week, 40 National Union of Workers (NUW) members picketed Leader operations around the city’s suburbs.

"Our members wanted to send News Ltd a message that they were fed up with the stalling tactics and wanted the EBA they were promised months ago", NUW Secretary, Martin Pakula, said.

"Leader responded by standing everyone down, we assume, in the belief it would force them back to work. Well, that has failed. Our members are more determined than ever to win a reasonable EBA outcome."

The NUW and News Ltd have been in negotiations since December.

Talks were thrown into disarray after just one month when NUW members were issued with non-negotiated AWAs that the majority refused to sign.

Martin Pakula said Leader Newspapers had thrown up road blocks at every stage of negotiations.

"This is a dispute about basic safety net provisions, to protect our members’ interests in the event of conflict with the company, like we have now", he said.

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