The ABC has joined a long list of employers committing wage theft, after a new report from the Community and Public Sector Union shows it knowingly underpaid 2,500 casual staff by $22.9 million.
According to the CPSU report, the ABC ignored formal complaints from staff and their unions, and also ignored opportunities to proactively fix the underpayment.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said it has been 10 months since a CPSU member formally disputed their pay and raised issues with the payment of casual staff at the ABC, but the national broadcaster has failed to take action.
Also read: 10 years' jail proposed for wage theft
No staff members have been paid back, with management informing casual staff that repayment of wages had been delayed indefinitely.
‘ABC sat on money that is not theirs for far too long’
ACTU secretary Sally McManus slammed the ABC, saying there’s “no good excuse” for not repaying staff.
“When a good employer identifies an underpayment or their staff brings it to their attention, their first concern is to return the money,” McManus said.
“Good employers work with unions every day to fix such problems.
“ABC management have overseen wage theft and sat on money that is not theirs for far too long. This is money that casual staff need to pay their bills.”
McManus said it was on the government to sanction wage theft, rather than facilitate it.
“The Morrison Government has allowed wage theft to become a business model where a slow and expensive legal system allows employers to delay and frustrate working people’s access to justice,” she said.
The government is also trying to make it harder for unions to stand up for workers by pushing through the Ensuring Integrity Bill, she added.
“ABC must take immediate action to address their wrongdoing and make changes to ensure that it never happens again.”
ABC flags job cuts
ABC’s managing director, David Anderson, flagged job cuts at the national broadcaster, telling the Australian: “I think we’re facing an ABC of the future that has less people”.
Anderson said the ABC was looking to extend its focus beyond the inner cities to suburban and rural Australia, but that could be tough with a slashed budget.
“Anything we do is seen through the prism of the fact that we are effectively going to have to operate for less money into the future,” he said.
“What we’re exploring is how we might be able to have a presence in Sydney that sits outside of Ultimo but we’re looking at other cities as well.”
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