ABC staff demand more taxpayer money as they prepare to go on strike
ABC employees plan to quit their jobs for the first time in 17 years.
Hundreds of employees will go on a 40-minute strike at 2 p.m. Tuesday after rejecting the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster’s offer of a 10.5 percent wage increase over three years with a one-time payment of $1,500.
No better offer came out when trade union representatives from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance met with ABC CEO David Anderson on Tuesday.
The strike will clash with the Reserve Bank’s next interest rate decision, where a 10th hike in as many months is expected.
Regular broadcasts may also be replaced with pre-recorded material if television and radio personnel walk out as well, sparking outrage from leading commentators.
2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham called the 40-minute strike as lazy as he made an offer to chairman Ita Buttrose to offer his services during the union action.
Hundreds of ABC employees will walk off the track for 40 minutes next Tuesday afternoon. Pictured is President Ita Buttrose leading the broadcaster’s float during Saturday night’s Mardi Gras parade
“I’m offering ABC management today to donate my time next Tuesday,” he told listeners on Thursday.
“If Ita Buttrose agrees, I’m going live on the ABC for 40 minutes. I could do it on radio, television and all your other media resources.’
Fordham believed his 2GB colleague Ray Hadley would join him.
‘We can just chat on your ABC for 40 minutes. So Ita, please contact me. This offer is genuine,” he added.
Conservative columnist Andrew Bolt also denounced the strike as he branded the staff entitled to their demands.
“I hope the ABC bosses have the guts to put their feet up, order the popcorn and watch their staff prove to Australia that we can really do without them,” Bolt wrote in his latest News Corp column.
“What an arrogance to think that their services are so critical that a strike should bring down the Albanian government and the board of ABC.
“But for the rest of Australia it’s all good.
First, ABC audiences would have a refreshing opportunity to break out of the ABC bubble and get their news from elsewhere – the plethora of private sector newspapers, radio stations, TV outlets, podcasts and video channels that are not all share the ABC worldview.’
The national broadcaster receives more than $1 billion in government funding each year.
The ABC receives more than $1 billion in government funding each year. Pictured are ABC stars Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli
Taxpayers have taken to social media to express their anger at the strike.
“Have the ABC go on indefinite hiatus and then fire them all. We would save a lot of tax money and lose nothing at all.’
Ninety percent of ABC personnel who are members of the MEAA voted in favor of union action in the protected ballot.
They also voted overwhelmingly for further union action in the coming weeks, including a possible 24-hour strike.
Union spokeswoman Cassie Derrick said members were firm that management’s current proposal needs work.
2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham (pictured) has offered his time and services to the ABC
“David Anderson listened to our concerns and agreed to postpone the vote on the current offer, but no commitment has been made on an improved deal that addresses the staff’s top concerns,” she said.
“It’s not just about pay. It’s about giving you a fair chance to make a career in public broadcasting.
‘It’s about sustainable careers and equal pay for journalists in the regions, with diverse backgrounds and women.’
Other workforce concerns include career advancement through pay scales, regular, transparently reported pay gap checks based on gender and race to address issues of inequality and retention of diverse workforce, along with an enhanced buyout system.
They also demand back wages from the time the previous company contract expired.
Community and Public Sector Union members at the ABC will wear red and post social media posts in solidarity with notable MEAA colleagues.
The ABC says it’s on continue to negotiate in good faith.
The national broadcaster receives more than $1 billion in government funding each year. Pictured is ABC’s headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney
“The ABC is also doing everything it can to ensure that the public experiences as little disruption to services as possible during any industrial action,” said a spokesperson.
“The ABC’s initial proposal was for a three-year agreement expiring in October 2025, with a one-time payment of $750 and salary increases of 3.5%, 3% and 2.5%.”
The new proposal is a three-year agreement that expires in March 2026, with a one-time payment of $1,500 and higher salary increases (4%, 3.5% and 3%) over the term of the agreement, resulting in higher base salaries. This has been carefully aligned with the ABC’s fixed financing envelope.’
The last time ABC staff went on strike was in 2006, when union members went off work for 24 hours, causing widespread disruption to TV and radio services.