Union says authorities proposal for ABC wage freeze threatens broadcaster’s independence | Media


The journalists’ union has blasted the Morrison authorities for exerting stress on the ABC to embark on a six-month wage freeze, declaring the intervention by the communications minister, Paul Fletcher, threatens the nationwide broadcaster’s independence.

The blast from the Media, Leisure and Arts Alliance comes as Guardian Australia has discovered the nationwide broadcaster’s managing director, David Anderson, advised a workers assembly earlier this week senior executives would forgo their bonuses and “at-risk” funds this monetary 12 months due to the Covid-19 disaster.

Anderson wrote to all ABC workers on Wednesday night confirming that was his place, and in addition revealing that he had requested his wage be lowered by 5% in mild of the pandemic and the budgetary stress on the organisation.

“The ABC determined in April that it was not applicable within the present setting to pay bonuses to senior executives or any wage at-risk funds this monetary 12 months, and as managing director, I declined the two% improve that may have been paid to me pursuant to the Remuneration Tribunal dedication this July,” Anderson’s e mail stated.

“I additionally requested (and had accepted) that my wage be lowered by 5% from April till the tip of September. The financial savings realised from these measures, and different reductions to expenditure this monetary 12 months, have contributed to content material initiatives throughout the international pandemic.”

Guardian Australia revealed on Wednesday that Fletcher wrote to Anderson this week flagging his expectation that the organisation would defer a 2% improve for all staff scheduled to take impact in October beneath the ABC’s enterprise settlement.

Fletcher’s warning shot follows the federal government’s determination in early April to defer general wage increases for commonwealth public servants for six months. The general public service commissioner adopted up that directive by writing to all personal service businesses – together with the ABC – informing them the federal government anticipated them to undertake the identical apply.

The communications minister advised Anderson on this week’s letter the ABC embarking on a six-month wage pause wouldn’t solely be per the apply being utilized throughout authorities businesses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, it might even be a “extremely applicable gesture of solidarity” with journalists in business media who’re dealing with pay cuts and the closure of their organisations due to a precipitous dive in promoting income.

However Paul Murphy, the chief government of the MEAA, declared on Wednesday that Fletcher had engaged in overreach. Murphy stated the warning concerning the pay freeze was “simply one other shot within the tradition wars” and indicative of the Coalition’s “unhealthy obsession with the ABC”.

Murphy stated the intervention by the communications minister turned this “into a difficulty of ABC independence”. He stated pay outcomes on the nationwide broadcaster had been “not one of the authorities’s enterprise” and any variation of the present enterprise settlement was a matter for ABC administration and the unions, not the federal government.

Anderson’s e mail to all workers echoes Murphy’s level about independence, but it surely doesn’t reveal which method the organisation will leap on the wage freeze for all staff.

“Not like the Australian Public Service, the ABC doesn’t have the power to unilaterally alter the working situations of its staff,” Anderson’s e mail to workers says.

He says the dedication made for public sector workers throughout Covid-19 doesn’t apply to the ABC and “the independence of the ABC from authorities path is about out within the ABC Act”.

However Anderson additionally says the related laws requires the ABC to provide consideration to any coverage proposed by the minister in relation to the administration of the ABC, and he says “this consideration will probably be given”.

“I don’t consider this proposal in any method displays negatively on the laborious work of all of you throughout this era, or throughout the bushfires final summer time, and the contribution the ABC continues to make to the group on daily basis.”

“We’ll present you an replace on this matter after additional consideration.”