A reporter at the ABC who lost her job as part of the controversial “Hunger Games” redundancy round in 2014/15 has failed in her bid to challenge her redundancy through the Fair Work Commission, with the body siding with Aunty on all counts yesterday.
The journalist, who represented herself at the commission, worked since 2013 for the ABC in a casual and then permanent capacity in the Sydney newsroom. She was one of dozens of employees placed into bands alongside those performing similar roles in 2014, as the ABC pursued what it argued was the most fair way of reducing its workforce in light of budget cuts. Her band contained six employees who performed dual reporter/producer roles in the Sydney newsroom — the ABC proposed to make two redundant.
The journalist received news she’d been placed at the bottom of the pool in December 2014, and her union representative advised the ABC she didn’t want to accept immediate redundancy, opting instead to try for potential redeployment within the organisation. This was unsuccessful, and her role with the ABC ended in July 2015.
In her submission, the journalist argued that her job wasn’t a genuine redundancy, as it was still being performed by casual employees within the ABC. But the Fair Work Commission accepted the ABC’s evidence that the Sydney newsroom was now operating with fewer staff overall. It also rejected submissions that the ABC had not adequately consulted the journalist during the process. “I am satisfied that the ABC discharged its obligation to consult [the journalist] as per the [industrial] agreement,” Fair Work Commission senior deputy president Jonathan Hamberger wrote in the judgment. “The fact that [she] was dissatisfied with the outcome is understandable, but does not mean that consultation did not occur.”
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The journalist also argued that the ABC didn’t take sufficient steps to redeploy her, particularly with regard to how it treated others within the organisation. She said other employees at the ABC had been “shielded” from redundancy by having positions created specifically for them. This wasn’t accepted in the ruling, as Hamberger said there was no evidence to support it.