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ABC apologises for underpaying casual staff

The ABC has publicly apologised for potentially underpaying up to 2500 of its casual staff over the past six years after miscalculating penalties, allowances and loadings.

In a statement, the ABC said it had informed the Fair Work Ombudsman, the MEAA, and the Community and Public Sector Union which represents the bulk of the broadcaster’s workforce, after discovering the error.

The broadcaster said current and former casual employees who might be affected are being notified and the ABC is reviewing its processes to address the issue.

In the statement, the ABC said: “This error should not have occurred, and the ABC apologises to any casual employee who has been underpaid. The ABC is actively working to remedy this for affected employees as soon as possible.”

CPSU ABC section secretary Sinddy Ealy said in a statement to Mumbrella: “The CPSU has been alerting the ABC management about this issue for a number of years now. As recently as 2016 the CPSU was assured by the ABC that it was paying casual employees in accordance with the terms and conditions of the ABC staff agreement – clearly that is not the case.

“The ABC’s failure to pay its casual workers correctly serves as a caution to all employers about the risks of casualisation and also why employers should lift their game when it comes to working cooperatively with unions.

“Our priority now is to ensure that the ABC’s casual workers get all backpay they are entitle to receive as well as permanent jobs.”

Late last year, The Guardian reported a review of the casual payments had been triggered following a CPSU audit which had found  an employee in the Brisbane digital newsroom had been underpaid $19,000 since 2016.

Casuals make up a large proportion of the ABC’s workforce, particularly in the broadcasting divisions as the organisation deals with reduced funding with head of news, Gaven Morris, warning last year there was no more fat left to cut.

Last year, regional publisher Touchpoint Media was slammed by a Federal court judge for its underpayment of journalists while a Mumbrella investigation found broadcasters and publishers were escaping prosecution for exploiting low or unpaid workers.

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