In the protracted battle over the ABC’s new enterprise bargaining agreement, both sides are bringing out the big guns.

Yesterday, ABC staff had a scheduled vote on the new EBA announced by HR, after the ABC’s executive decided the thing should just be put to a vote. “After 26 weeks of negotiations, it is obvious we are at an impasse with the unions. Given the three offers and the concessions already made, we feel it is the right thing to do to go directly to a vote,” wrote “director of ABC people” Rebekah Donaldson to all staff. Neither the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance nor the Community and Public Sector Union (the two unions that represent ABC staff) are, so far, urging a yes vote on the EBA — in fact, both unions are urging members to vote yes to a “protected action” (that could be go-slow, a strike, or other industrial action).

“Union members at the ABC fought off a substantial list of reductions to conditions during this campaign, and from early July members were readying to take protected action for the first time in 10 years as a consequence of this,” said MEAA director of media Katelin McInerney. “As a result of that action all bar two reductions to conditions were pulled by the ABC. [However] there were two outstanding issues — the introduction of a forced Christmas shutdown with one month’s notice and forced changes to roster cycles that prevented the unions from recommending these offers to members.”

The ABC has thrown the proposal back to its staff — if 50% back management’s proposed EBA, it’ll pass. If most staff vote for the union’s protected action instead, the issue could yet drag on.