The director of the journalism and entertainment union’s media division has criticised ABC management for not keeping the union abreast of its decisions regarding redundancies, as his union secures a minor victory forcing further consultation from the ABC over its controversial redundancy pools process.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, along with the Community and Public Sector Union, took the ABC to the Fair Work Commission last week accusing it of pursuing an unfair and not transparent redundancy process. In a ruling handed down yesterday afternoon, the Fair Work Commission forced further consultation regarding the redundancies of any staff who did not wish to leave the organisation. However, the commission has not forced the ABC to proceed to a system of full voluntary redundancies, which the unions have called for in the past.
According to the ruling, only staff who want to be made redundant can be made so before Christmas 2014. This is in keeping with the ABC’s communications to staff from last week, when director of people Alan Sunderland told those fighting it out in the ABC’s redundancy pools that only voluntary redundancies would be processed before Christmas. Those who wish to stay will be given more time to make their cases, and, if necessary, prepare for their departure.
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“Three weeks ago ABC management were determined to force 300 redundancies before Christmas. This has not happened. Instead, because of union action, the only people leaving before Christmas are people who want to go,” CPSU national president Michael Tull said yesterday. “It’s a common-sense position ABC management should have taken right from the start.”
The ABC welcomed the ruling. In a statement to staff yesterday, Sunderland said the discussions with the Commission and the unions were “useful”. At the end, he said, the Commission “gave the ABC the go ahead to continue progressing the selection pools and advising staff in those pools if they are potentially redundant”.
But head of MEAA’s media division, Paul Murphy, says he retains “very serious” concerns about the redundancy process, questioning why the MEAA wasn’t kept abreast of the ABC’s plans regarding redundancies earlier.
“Obviously these budget cuts have been in the works for a long time, and we know they’ve done a lot of work to develop the [redundancy] proposals,” he told Crikey. “It’s entirely unreasonable for them to refuse our offer to work with them, and then dump a massive amount of material on us, and expect the consultation to get to the point where, in a few weeks, they can make a decision. It’s unreasonable behaviour in our view.”
One ABC insider told Crikey this morning that the feeling within the ABC was that “while the unions may have scored a couple of minor points they are just delaying the inevitable”. Staff also fear this is just the first round of several redundancy drives, as the ABC’s budget cuts will bite particularly hard in 2016-17. The news division of the ABC has been hard hit by the redundancies — contributing around a third of the total number of job losses expected this year. But other divisions, the insider says, are watching closely what happens.
The ABC will be offering those who wish to go and have been placed in a pool a redundancy package by the end of the week, the CPSU and MEAA have told their members.