Monday, November 30th, 2015 #MEAACrew #MEAAEquity #MEAAMedia #MEAAMusic #MEAASOMA #MEAASport #WithMEAA News
MEAA Online

The 2014-15 year was one of consolidation and rebuilding, reports MEAA Chief Executive Officer Paul Murphy.

Paul HeadshotIt was my great honour in April this year to take over as the first appointed chief executive officer of our union – a union I have myself been a member of for more than two decades.

Much of the focus of the leadership of MEAA this year has been on bedding down the new structure endorsed by the federal council in 2014, which has a CEO flanked by the directors of each section.

We have been careful to put the right people and processes in place so that the union can be poised to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves in the next few years.

Membership declined slightly in 2014-15 by about 1.7%, but there are encouraging signs from the continued growth of the Entertainment, Crew & Sport section, which has increased its membership by 12% over the past two years.

Congratulations to the ECS team for these results which show the benefits of targeted member organising and recruitment.

Incidentally, the ECS section is celebrating 100 years since the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association was formed in 1915.

Unfortunately, these gains have been offset by continued decline in the Media and Equity sections.

Newspaper redundancies have been compounded by job losses in public broadcasting as a result of sharp budget cuts to the ABC and SBS.

The roll-out of Fairfax’s NewsNow model this year has seen enormous job losses in regional newspapers. We have fought hard in an effort to limit the job losses and to ensure members receive full entitlements where redundancy occurs.

It is also essential that our union continues to explore innovative new ways to represent the growing freelance segments of our industries, organises professionals in digital media, and expands its range of services to workers beyond our traditional membership bases.

Falling membership has an impact on MEAA’s revenue, and in 2014-15 we have had to be vigilant about continuing to reduce expenditure.

This has involved some tough decisions, and I would like to express my appreciation to our staff for their co-operation in cutting costs and their commitment to their jobs in straitened circumstances.

Another focus of 2014-15 has been on breaking down the silos that may have once existed between the sections of our union.

There is no better example of this than the combined Equity-ECS Save Our Stories campaign to retain the visa rules which regulate the number of foreign performers and crew who can work temporarily in Australia.

This successful campaign was carefully planned, with strong organising, education, political and communications elements and provides a blueprint for how our union will run industry or sector campaigns in the future.

Another success, for different reasons, was the co-ordinating role that MEAA played in the campaign to restore funding to the Australia Council that was taken away in the May Budget.

While the campaign is continuing until funding is restored, there is little doubt that it forced the removal of George Brandis and demonstrated how MEAA can provide assistance to a grassroots public campaign to increase its effectiveness.

On a completely different front, MEAA continues to provide leadership on issues involving press freedom, and in the past 12 months has been at the forefront of campaigning and lobbying over the data retention legislation, protection of whistleblowers, the wrongful imprisonment of Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues, and other attacks on journalists’ ability to do their jobs.

We plan to use the knowledge gained from these campaigns as MEAA becomes more active in fighting for our members and shaping our industries in years to come.

We are confident that the strategies and resources we have put in place to run high-profile campaigns will motivate more of our members to become activists, and in turn lead to growth for the union.

Finally, it is important to pay tribute to Chris Warren, who served as our federal secretary for 28 years until March this year.

Chris steered the union from the original amalgamation of the AJA, Equity and the ATAEA – three very different unions – into the unified representative of Australia’s creative professionals that it is today, and he should be justifiably proud.

Read the full MEAA 2014-15 Annual Report.