Unions consider ABC strike action

A competitive skills-based matrix pitting ABC employee against employee has angered unions.

abc hqThe Community and Public Sector Union and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance have raised the prospect of industrial action following ABC management’s plans to resolve redundancies before Christmas.

A “skills matrix” is being used to compare employee abilities to help determine around 1 in 10 redundancies amongst staff.

TEN used a similar matrix to determine redundancies in 2012.

“The ABC has a legal obligation to talk to affected staff first and discuss measures that the ABC is taking to minimise staff redundancies and reduce the impact on employees,” CPSU’s Sarah Hunt told Fairfax.

“There is nothing in the agreement that says it can pit colleague against colleague in a corrosive spill-and-fill process.”

Crikey suggests the position descriptions of some roles have already been changed in a way that makes their current occupants unlikely to be reappointed to those roles.

The Guardian reports board member and ABC staff-elected director Matt Peacock is also facing redundancy, alongside his colleagues on 7.30.

“I get what the ABC is trying to do – which is to have a fair process – but I was surprised by it and I think it’s traumatised a lot of staff,” he said.

ABC’s Director of News Kate Torney wrote to affected staff on Wednesday, saying: “I know this is a difficult and stressful time. Above and beyond the confidential counselling available through the Employee Assistance Program, we will also have a counsellor on site this week and next.”

But Managing Director Mark Scott defended the competitive process that has been likened to The Hunger Games.

“We are looking at the skills mix we need for digital. All media organisations are doing that. We’re following a process to do that which is spelled out in their industrial agreements. Yes, we are looking into people who can help us tell stories on apps and mobile as well as telling stories on radio and television,” he told ABC’s Media Report.

“We’re looking at job classifications, we’re looking at our job mix, but still nobody will have more experienced broadcasters, more specialist broadcasters, more people with detailed news experience than the ABC. In fact, if you look at what we’ve done in recent years, we’ve gone out there and recruited senior, experienced journalists with specialist understanding of content areas, and we’ve created a national reporting team,” he said.

“The advice that we’ve taken, and following the guidelines that are spelled out in our agreement, this is the process we’re going down. Staff have told me it’s a bit confronting, people aren’t particularly enjoying it, but nobody is particularly enjoying this process. We feel it’s a fair process for our staff and we think it’s the best process to secure the best staff mix for the future of the organisation.”

But MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said, “The smart approach would be to offer voluntary redundancy that allows those who want to leave to go and those who want to stay to plan how the work will be done with fewer staff.”

2 Responses

  1. A redundancy means that the job is no longer need. A voluntary redundancy is an oxymoron.

    Voluntary redundancies result in all your best workers taking the cash and taking a job with your rival. All the time servers and those without the skills to compete in the labour market remain.

    Previous attempts to reform, or in fact manage, the ABC staff have failed because they all clung to their job descriptions and the EB agreement and refused to cooperate.

    A strike over non-ratings is just what Scott wants.

  2. These staff think the ABC exists solely for their benefit.

    ABC staff need to move into the 2000’s. Of course a skills matrix should be created when evaluating what staff go and which staff stay. What other criteria do they suggest, tenure? thong size?

    The ABC is not a sheltered workshop. It is a government business and should operate under the same efficiencies as the public has a tight to demand of all government bodies.

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