The ABC board chair, Ita Buttrose, has made the extraordinary request for staff to forego a scheduled wage increase so as to help pay for emergency broadcasting and public interest journalism.
It follows a request for the ABC to join a public service wage freeze being imposed by Scott Morrison’s coalition government.
But the ABC is independent of government, so Ms Buttrose is asking staff to vote to adjust their pay levels to appease the government.
The move follows a tsunami of redundancies in the public broadcaster, which includes a very large number of some of its most important and experienced journalists and on-air talent.
According to a report in The Guardian Australia, Ms Buttrose told staff that any funds recovered from such a vote would not go back to the government, but would go to helping emergency coverage and journalism.
Ita Buttrose said:
“The board has been considering this request for some months and has explored many options.”
“We held further deliberations this week and have decided to ask eligible ABC staff to vote on whether they will accept the deferral of the scheduled 2% pay rise from 1 October 2020 to 1 April 2021.”
“The minister asked us to consider the current situation across the media industry and the challenges other media organisations face, along with the Australian community, due to the exceptional economic consequences caused by Covid-19.”
Union officials are quoted as saying a vote to accept the pay cut is unlikely to succeed.