MEAA ups the noise on musos’ pay

INDUSTRIAL relations battles could soon be waged in the home of Western Australian live music – the pubs.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s musicians’ division is planning to reignite its campaign to have musicians treated with the same consideration as employees.

It has succeeded in winning the right for musicians to be able to enforce contracts through WA’s new industrial laws but lost its bid to have a minimum wage instituted for musicians.

MEAA industrial officer Peter Woodward said he was pleased about the contract enforcement provisions included in the new IR laws because it would, in his belief, allow musicians to enforce breached contracts through the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

He now wants a provision setting a minimum wage for musicians to be introduced into the legislation.

“The union wants a provision introduced into the legislation saying in any contract the payment should not be less than what each musician would have earned if they were on the award,” Mr Woodward said.

“New South Wales has minimum conditions for musicians. There’s a similar thing in place in New York.

“I think there will be an improvement if the venues had to pay musicians a minimum wage.

“But at the same time we don’t want regulations created that are too hard to put in.”

Slim Jim Enterprises managing director Jamie Mercanti said such a move would be disastrous for the industry because it would set all musicians, no matter what their quality, on the same pay rate.

“Who determines the award rates? This is basically assuming that every musician has the capacity to earn the minimum and, therefore, the minimum will be-come the yardstick,” he said.

“This will force a lot of people who have made their careers from music out of the industry.

“Live music has always been a part of the Australian culture but it has come under a lot of pressure recently through RBT, double demerit point campaigns, GST and even noise abatement rules. Now it has to deal with this.”

Mr Woodward initially lobbied the Government to introduce both the contract enforcement and the minimum wage conditions in its new industrial laws, many of which came into effect last week.

The Government responded by introducing a clause into the legislation that required musicians to become employees of the venue for the time they were playing. This clause was subsequently withdrawn because of fears it would destroy the live music industry.

Mr Woodward said he had not pushed for musicians to become employees.

He had been one of the leading figures in the Justice for Musicians campaign that aimed to gain some industrial relations surety for musicians in the early 1990s.

The campaign looked like being successful but was foiled by the then Lawrence Government’s election loss.

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