Members of the Neighbours production team claim that production company Fremantle is refusing to pay their redundancy pay.
The Australian serial, which first aired in 1985 and has been on our screens for 37 years, was axed in March, with the final episodes slated to air in August.
Kylie Minogue and co-star Jason Donovan have stated that they will return to the show to celebrate the finale.
‘They’ve had Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan come over to shoot scenes recently,’ said Paul Stanley, an organiser for the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance union.
‘That’s cool, but you’ve got people working here that took eight weeks off last year to “save the show”. You’re saying you can’t pay us redundancies and yet you are sinking money into the talent.’
According to sources, union delegates have met with management from the production business multiple times in recent months to discuss the ‘devastating impact of the show’s cancellation on long-serving personnel,’ which includes about 100 employees.
Despite their yearly contracts rolling over, the union claimed Fremantle maintained that the workers are not employees but contractors, and hence are not entitled to the same benefits as regular employees.
‘Fremantle is trying to avoid payment to crew who have been loyal to the production, in some cases for decades, under cover of rolling fixed-term contracts,’ the union told members in a bulletin following the show’s cancellation.
One staff member, who has worked on Neighbours for over three decades, expressed dissatisfaction with Freemantle’s lack of’recognition of the service.’
‘They always make out that at Neighbours, we’re all part of the family, but then it’s come to the end of the show, which is sad obviously, and they just turn around and say, “well, you’re not entitled to any benefits,” so it’s a bit frustrating and disappointing,’ he said.
Chief executive Greg Woods of Fremantle Australia, on the other hand, has declared that the company has met its legal requirements.
‘To safeguard the wellbeing of our cast and crew of whom are our primary concern, and with just over one week left of production, we will not be providing a detailed comment at this time,’ he said.
‘Additionally, as part of company policy, we also do not provide comment on HR-related matters.’
He continued: ‘However, I can confirm that we’ve sought external counsel to ensure that we provide the necessary support and that we meet everyone’s legal entitlements and fully comply with our obligations.
‘Our priority is and will continue to be to support the wellbeing of our cast and crew as the production draws next Friday.’
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