ABC radio host goes off air amid strike action

It was one of two stoppages planned by ABC staff on Wednesday over a pay and conditions dispute.

ABC Radio National was thrown into chaos this morning when its breakfast host went off the air as the show was disrupted by an hour-long strike.

From 7am, RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas was interrupted for 60 minutes as part of two work stoppages on Wednesday over employees' wages.

Instead a man’s voice could be heard.

“Welcome to listeners on ABC Radio National,” he said, as reported by, “where our normal program has been suspended due to protected industrial action by members over the pay and conditions dispute with the ABC".

The host of ABC's Radio National Breakfast, Patricia Karvelas, looking at the camera (left) and at her radio desk (right).
The host of ABC's Radio National Breakfast, Patricia Karvelas, disappeared from the airwaves at 7am this morning. Source: Instagram/Patricia Karvelas

For the next hour Radio National played standard news bulletins on repeat before returning to its usual schedule at 8am.

ABC staff fighting for better pay

The move comes a day after ABC members of the nation’s largest media union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) called off its planned industrial action after reaching in-principle agreement with management for a new workplace deal.

“The new offer provides pay rises totalling 11 per cent over three years, backdated to October 1 last year, but a $1,500 sign on bonus,” MEAA Media Director Cassie Derrick said in a statement.

“Management has also agreed to conduct a transparent audit of the gender and CALD pay gap, to fix the broken buyout system, and to put in place a new pathway for career progression for early and mid-career journalists.”

The Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) said it was at the halfway point in today’s planned industrial action. Source: CPSU
The Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) said it was at the halfway point in today’s planned industrial action. Source: CPSU

Union members push ahead with planned strike action

But members of another, smaller union, the Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU), went ahead with the planned strike, giving the ABC less than an hour’s warning before they walked off the job at 7am.

“Today CPSU members at the ABC are taking industrial action for the first time in 17 years,” it posted on Twitter. “Union members are angry about management's approach to bargaining and the level of disrespect that union members have been shown.”

Hours later the CPSU shared a statement online, saying ABC management “have dug their heels in at every possible turn”.

“CPSU members made a commitment to take action today if the ABC management did not meet two key demands that were outstanding in bargaining,” it read. “One is about ensuring ABC workers are not underpaid. The other is about making sure ABC workers are not under-classified.

“Unsurprisingly, they refused to meet those demands in a way that will deliver tangible outcomes through the agreement.”

Adding that members in the ABC were “at the halfway point in today’s planned industrial action”, the CPSU confirmed plans to stop work again from 3pm to 4pm on Wednesday.

ABC regrets 'audiences were impacted'

ABC later confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that the breakfast program was affected by tech staff who are CPSU members.

"Protected industrial action by the CPSU caused some changes to programming on RN and Sydney Local Radio," a spokesperson said in a statement. "RN Breakfast was off air from 7-8am AEDT on Wednesday due to the industrial action by support staff. We regret audiences were impacted and we welcome the MEAA's decision to call of its stop work action."

The spokesperson added that the ABC has "consistently welcomed the opportunity for constructive negotiations to find the best outcome for staff and the organisation".

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