I was one of the ABC employees asked to attend a “private” meeting with management before managing director Mark Scott announced the budget cuts yesterday.

So, along with hundreds of my co-workers around the country, I spent the weekend obsessing about whether I might be about to lose my job — or worse.

According to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the process surrounding these particular jobs cuts is worse than it has ever seen.  Looking at it rationally, I understand the strategy. I just hoped that the ABC would have been above those kind of dirty games.

The good news though is that while we — the workers — might be feeling down, we are definitely not out. You see, what the ABC and management cronies probably hadn’t counted on was the comradeship that exists between colleagues at our national broadcaster. The culture, which management in part has created through recruitment decisions and promotions, was about to work against it.

Over the course of that dread-filled weekend, I met and spoke to everyone in my area of the organisation who was affected. We sought advice from every expert we knew (we work in the media, so that’s a few), canvassed options and then combined resources. Some of us are union members, some of us aren’t, but what we shared was the understanding that this uncertain weekend was not meant to benefit us. Indeed I’m sure the intent (of ABC management) was to divide us and make us see each other as competition, and to have us expect the worst so that anything else would seem palatable.

Instead, we developed a game plan for the horrible Monday morning meetings — and in some ways, I like to think that we snookered ABC management, at least for a moment. Our tactics swung the balance back to the workers in those meetings because, for the first time since Friday night, it was management who had less information than the affected staff. We each knew what the other was willing to agree to — and we reconvened after every meeting to compare notes.

It probably sounds bolshie and left-wing and union-y, but the truth is, more than co-workers, these people are my friends. The ABC, for all its faults, attracts principled people with compassion. We will continue to work together and communicate because that’s what we do, every day.

My years at the ABC, which could very well be cut short over the coming weeks, have more than anything taught me about the power of people and their individuality. When I arrived at the ABC I remember being astounded at the intellect and creativity that surrounded me, and somewhat dismayed at the chaos which accompanied it. Since then, I’ve watched that combined brilliance tell the most amazing stories and touch people in ways I never thought possible.

Sadly, when 10% of the ABC workforce goes, so will 10% of that brilliance. I only hope that fear doesn’t strip the creativity from the remainder.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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