Union organisers say it is likely there will soon be “guerrilla” industrial action at the ABC, thanks to what they say is a poor wages offer and legislative impediments to conventional walk-outs and strikes.
The union with the largest number of ABC members, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), opens its ballot for protected industrial action on Monday (20/02/2023).
The results will be known very soon after the ballot closes on March the 15th.
The smaller journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA), is already running its ballot, and as it closes on the 25th of February, journalists will have the opportunity to take action earlier than the bulk of ABC staff should they choose to do so.
The unions are rejecting a new ABC offer of a one off $1,500 sign on payment, which fails to include backpay, and results in a real offer of a 2.3% pay rise in the first year.
CPSU ABC representative Sinndy Ealy said:
Not only has ABC management insulted staff with a backwards offer, but they are also ignoring requests to meet with union representatives.
Putting an offer on the table that leaves staff worse off at the very time they need relief from inflation and cost of living pressures, and worse off than the offer they voted down, means ABC management are either terrible at maths or have a complete lack of respect for their staff.
The ABC is built on the people who work there, and it is time for management to start acknowledging that. Investing in content making means investing in the support staff and workers who make ABC content.
It is safe to say that CPSU members will be continuing on the path toward protected industrial action, but if management intend on putting another offer on the table, we recommend it at least be an improvement on the previous ones.
The last time there was industrial action on such a scale was in 2006, when strike action affected on-air ABC programs.
On several occasions, for instance, the 7pm TV news had to be cobbled together by managers, with national bulletins presented by one of the state news editors.
These days, the legislative framework is so tight, taking shows off air will be far more difficult.
Laws brought in by the former government, for instance, mandate that unions give employers a total of five business days warning before strike action can commence.
That would give management ample time to set up an alternative workforce.
So other tactics, such as go-slows and “working to rule” are likely to be employed this time around, in what organisers are calling a “guerrilla” campaign.
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