Nine journalists vote to accept pay deal

·2-min read

Publishing giant Nine has avoided a threatened strike after journalists at some of Australia's biggest newspapers opted to accept a revised pay offer.

Union members on Tuesday voted in favour of the two-year deal, bringing an end to a protracted dispute with management - although the vote will still need to be formally lodged with the Fair Work Commission.

Nine's mastheads include The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, WAToday and The Brisbane Times.

Staff had considered walking off the job for 48 hours from Thursday, leaving newsrooms depleted ahead of the Queen's funeral and AFL and NRL finals.

Nine's managing director of publishing, James Chessell, said he was pleased an in-principle agreement had been reached with staff "that reflects their hard work and ensures stability for the mastheads".

"It means we will be able to focus even more on producing high-quality, public interest journalism for our valued readers and subscribers," he said.

Journalists had pushed for a 15.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

The accepted offer includes a four per cent increase in the first year followed by a 3.5 per cent rise. Permanent staff also recently received a $1750 one-off "recognition" bonus.

Members secured a diversity clause, expanded career progression, better parental leave and an improved working from home clause under the new arrangement, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said.

The union said Nine had agreed to develop a policy outlining minimum standards for its freelance contributors and to publicly display its charter of editorial independence.

MEAA media director Adam Portelli said it was a good result, particularly for younger staff.

"Journalists have provided an essential service over the last few years, keeping us informed through the pandemic, bushfire and floods. It's only fair their role has been recognised in this agreement," he said in a statement.

"Members wanted a fair increase, their commitment to ethics respected and a more diverse newsroom.

"Freelancers, in particular, deserve more certainty in their working lives, and we will continue our campaign to ensure that contributors - at Nine and elsewhere - are provided with minimum standards."

Mr Chessell briefed Nine staff on the revised offer earlier this week, saying at the time it was critical to balance their interests with those of the company amid "considerable cost headwinds".

In August, Nine announced record profits for 2021/22 with a statutory net profit of $315 million, up 71 per cent on the previous year.

Pre-tax earnings at its publishing division, which includes the news mastheads, lifted 53 per cent to $62 million.

The company also paid a record dividend to shareholders of 14 cents per share.