- The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has called off planned industrial action at the ABC.
- Members of the Community and Public Sector Union who work at the ABC will still strike, however.
- A new offer from ABC management, once signed, will give staff a pay rise of 11 per cent over three years.
- ABC managing director David Anderson directly intervened in negotiations after months of failed talks.
More than 1000 ABC staff have cancelled plans to strike on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with management over workplace conditions, but hundreds of employees will still walk off the job to express their anger at the national broadcaster’s tumultuous negotiating process.
Members of the two unions representing ABC staff – the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) – had filed notice to walk off the job for two hours on Wednesday in an attempt to pressure management into improving the career progression of junior journalists and to resolve longstanding issues with pay.
The last ABC strike was in 2006.Credit:Peter Rae
The MEAA on Tuesday said it had decided to cancel the plans to strike after receiving a commitment from ABC’s management that they will be involved in the legal drafting of a new workplace agreement.
However, CPSU members will proceed with the action, with Sinddy Ealy, the CPSU’s ABC section secretary, saying ABC’s management needed to be shown how angry its members were with the negotiation process.
“For the CPSU, tomorrow is about showing management at the ABC that our members are … angered by the level of disrespect they have been shown throughout it,” Ealy said. “ABC management cannot throw CPSU members off their course of action, now or ever.”
The media union says direct intervention of ABC managing director David Anderson has improved talks.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
The CPSU did not disclose the number of ABC members that will participate in the protest, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds, which will be an impediment to ABC operations on Wednesday at 7am and 3pm. CPSU members include staff that handle the ABC’s technology and control systems.
ABC staff have not taken strike action since 2006 when the 7pm television news was put together by managers, and national bulletins were presented by a state news editor.
The MEAA’s media director Cassie Derrick said the direct intervention of ABC managing director David Anderson had dramatically improved talks.
“Clearly, the threat of industrial action has helped to focus ABC’s management’s mind, as has the outpouring of support for our members from ABC viewers and listeners,” Derrick said.
“It was a turning point to have … David Anderson directly involved in negotiations after management stonewalled for months. ABC management now must begin to rebuild trust with its workforce.”
In an email on Tuesday evening, Anderson thanked staff for their commitment to the ABC during the negotiations.
“We wanted to put our offer to employees as soon as possible to ensure any approved salary increases are with employees as quickly as possible,” Anderson said.
“However, the unions have today requested additional time to raise drafting issues and we have agreed to their request. As a result we will hold off putting the offer to employees to allow time for this process.”
The new offer, once signed, will give ABC staff a pay rise of 11 per cent over three years, backdated to October 1, 2022. They will also receive a one-off $1500 bonus, an audit of the gender and cultural diversity pay gap, and a new framework for career progression.
“This has never been just about pay,” Derrick said.
Once signed, the new three-year enterprise agreement will put an end to a difficult nine months for ABC staff and management, who have been at loggerheads over key pay and working conditions.
Anderson directly intervened in negotiations in February after months of failed talks between executives and the unions. Staff voted to escalate the dispute in March, filing requests with the Fair Work Commission that ultimately allowed them to strike.
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