Guardian talks get
Negotiations have started with the
Guardian and Observer on minimum freelance rates,
following the milestone agreement on copyright reported in the
previous issue of the Freelance.
The last formal freelance agreement was negotiated in 1992
with a features rate of £149 per 1,000 words and similarly
depressing minima for other standard items.
There is clearly a lot of catching up to do. The
Guardian stated recently that its current minimum rate for 1000
words is £179 -- but through the Guardian
freelance network we have obtained up-to-date evidence of payments
as low as £150 pro rata i.e. no higher than seven years ago.
Freelance rates are supposed to have increased in line with
staff pay deals, but according to NUJ mathematicians such
calculations would produce a figure of £190 per 1000 words even
before allowing for staff bonus payments and profit-sharing
An NUJ negotiating team met Guardian management
on 7 April -- our representatives were freelance organiser Bernie
Corbett, Freelance Industrial Council chair Phil Sutcliffe and
Guardian chapel freelance rep Steve Bell.
They presented a claim in line with the new copyright
agreement for £200 per 1000 words as a minimum, plus an additional
element -- so far unspecified -- to cover additional uses agreed
by journalists using the standard licence -- mainly database
and web use and print syndication.
Rates for other types of contribution would mostly rise by the
same percentage, except for cases (such as cartoons and
illustrations) where the figures are now seriously out of line with
current industry levels -- these will need to be renegotiated
The Guardian managers said they would reply to
the NUJ presentation within three weeks and proposed a complicated
formula to obtain a figure for the new standard licence.
Another negotiating meeting is expected in early May.