The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has responded to communications minister Paul Fletcher’s calls for wage freezes at the ABC.
It was reported yesterday Fletcher had written to the ABC, urging the broadcaster to fall in line with other taxpayer-funded government agencies by imposing a six-month wage freeze across the business.
Fletcher was quoted as telling ABC managing director David Anderson the wage pause would be a “highly appropriate gesture of solidarity” to the rest of the Australian media.
Following revelations of Fletcher’s letter to Anderson, MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy told The Guardian calls for the pay freeze were just another shot in the culture wars” and indicative of the Coalition’s “unhealthy obsession with the ABC”.
Murphy went on to say it was being turned into “an issue of ABC independence” and that remuneration at the broadcaster was “none of the government’s business”.
The ABC has since sent an email to all staff addressing the current financial issues COVID-19 presents.
“Unlike the Australian Public Service, the ABC does not have the ability to unilaterally alter the working conditions of its employees,” Anderson said in the email.
Anderson announced it would be senior staff that would take an initial financial hit.
“The ABC decided in April that it was not appropriate in the current environment to pay bonuses to senior executives or any salary at-risk payments this financial year, and as managing director, I declined the two per cent increase that would have been paid to me pursuant to the Remuneration Tribunal determination this July,” he said.
“I also requested (and had approved) that my salary be reduced by five per cent from April until the end of September. The savings realised from these measures, and other reductions to expenditure this financial year, have contributed to content initiatives during the global pandemic.”