Guardian: it's down to muck and brass

GUARDIAN contributors are meeting in the Betsey Trotwood pub on 17 September at 6.30 pm, for a briefing and discussion about freelance rates. If you do any work for the Guardian - writing, photography or illustrations - it is in your interests to be there. The pub's just opposite the newspaper's offices on Farringdon Road.

Negotiations are plodding forward on a new freelance agreement with the paper. Rates were last fully negotiated ten years ago, with an inflation-proofing formula that has gradually run out of steam, as increases for freelances fell out of step with annual pay rises for staff journalists.

The impetus for revision came from the landmark agreement earlier this year on standard copyright licence terms for writers. This included a commitment by the paper to negotiate a minimum all-inclusive fee for writers who accept the standard terms - which do not assign copyright but do include licences for syndication, web sites and on-line databases.

So far the Guardian has offered to update the current minimum for 1,000 words from £176 to £185 now and £200 in April next year - although many contributors are paid significantly more, and will expect proportional increases. Included in the new rates would be 5 per cent for the additional licences. "Some people may think that 5p in the pound is pretty cheap for global domination," comments NUJ freelance organiser Bernie Corbett. The NUJ is also expecting to update the rates for photographs, illustrations and cartoons.

"It would be disastrous to accept an all-inclusive £200 figure," commented Guardian chapel freelance officer Steve Bell, "since, next time we come to negotiate an increase, the waters will be muddier than ever. We have to negotiate on a clear base figure. Anything else should be treated as an optional add-on, not an integral part of the fee. Five per cent for internet use only, might be plausible, but 5 per cent for lifting rights as well is just stupid."

Guardian contributors should make sure they are signed up with the Guardian freelance network. The email address is guardian.freelance@tesco.net

Sep/Oct 1999
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