Voting for the ABC’s staff elected board position is closing this week, as management and workers return to the bargaining table after successful strike action.
The campaign for the staff-elected spot on the ABC board has intensified in recent weeks, as broadcaster Indira Naidoo closes on the frontrunner, Laura Tingle.
Naidoo, who is now working as the presenter of both ABC Local Radio Sydney’s Evenings programme and Compass on ABC TV, has been leafletting ABC staff outside the Ultimo headquarters in Sydney.
She’s now being touted as a possible contender against Laura Tingle, even though the latter has the endorsement of the ABC’s largest union, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
Naidoo is an extremely popular long-term ABC employee, and her strong personal presence at the ABC’s Sydney offices gives her a distinct advantage over Tingle, who is both based in Canberra and is relatively new to the public broadcaster after spending most of her career in newspapers.
Meanwhile, ABC management is licking its wounds after recent strike action and a personal intervention by Managing Director David Anderson.
Journalists’ threats to stop work just as an interest rate rise was announced by the Reserve Bank was enough to get Anderson to the table, with the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) withdrawing its action as a result.
MEAA media director Cassie Derrick congratulated union members for their determination.
Cassie Derrick said:
The new offer provides pay rises totalling 11% over three years, backdated to October 1 last year, plus a $1500 sign on bonus.
Management has also agreed to conduct a transparent audit of the gender and [culturally and linguistically diverse] pay gap, to fix the broken buyout system, and to put in place a new pathway for career progression for early and mid-career journalists.
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.
It was a turning point to have Managing Director David Anderson directly involved in negotiations after management stonewalled for months.
But in spite of the MEAA’s move, ABC members of the CPSU opted to take action anyway.
They disrupted several broadcasts last week, including ABC Radio National’s Breakfast programme, local radio shows and, on television, the Melbourne-produced ABC News Breakfast show.
The union said its members wanted to vent their frustration at what it calls a difficult negotiating process.
It appears any protected industrial action has now paused while unions await a signed agreement.
Staff protesting at the ABC in Sydney were joined by activist and UK musician Billy Bragg, who sung to their demonstration.
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