The ANF has applied to the ACCC for authorisation to engage in collective bargaining with many newsagency suppliers. I first heard about this when I received notification as a director of newsagency marketing group newsXpress and then a second notification as a director of newsagency software company Tower Systems.
I know that some suppliers are surprised they heard about this from the ACCC and not the ANF. I agree with them. Lack of communication from the ANF reflects extraordinary disrespect of suppliers – suppliers it calls on to sponsor events and fund other activities. This will feed distrust among suppliers about the motives of the ANF.
Take my own position, for more than thirty years my software company has faithfully served newsagents. The relationship it has with its 1,900+ newsagent customers is sound and stable. I can’t see the ANF as having anything relevant to represent newsagents on. I am suspicious as to their motives.
Given its own commercial activities, my view is the ANF is conflicted in seeking this authorisation. The last information released indicated it was a shareholder in one supplier offering a broad range of products and services. I also understand it received commission or other compensation for promoting other products. These commercial relationships challenge the position it could take in any collective bargaining.
Here is the information on the public registers page at the ACCC website:
The Australian Newsagents Federation is seeking authorisation in its own right and on behalf of its Member State Branches, the Newsagents Association of NSW and the ACT, and the Victorian Newsagents Association to engage in collective bargaining. The Federation proposes that a national bargaining group be formed to represent member newsagents in negotiations with a range of suppliers, classified by the Federation as:
- Insurance brokers
- Business opportunities
- Drinks- non alcoholic
- Phone Cards
- Greeting cards and wrap
- Newspaper publishers
- Magazine distributors
- Marketing Groups / Franchises
- POS Providers
- Broadcast and communication service providers
- Electricity providers
- Transport companies
- ATM service providers
- Service stations
- Commercial landlords
The Federation notes that the suppliers as identified by the application may change over time. The Federation also proposes that local bargaining groups be formed to negotiate with suppliers in particular circumstances.
The ACCC is currently seeking submissions from interested parties. Submissions should be lodged at email@example.com by 4 March 2014.
Given that the ANF has not communicated its intentions with suppliers, it would not surprise me if they had not communicated with their partner associations – NANA and VANA.
I deal with associations in a range of retail channels and this is the first time I have seen an association seek such authorisation. Other associations approach suppliers in a relationship-building way.