ABC taken to task over 'dangerous' stress levels

ABC staff are suffering "dangerous" levels of workplace stress, according to a survey conducted by one of the unions responsible for the national broadcaster.

The Community and Public Sector Union has said it will enter the ABC's Ultimo headquarters under the Workplace Health and Safety Act to ensure the broadcaster has the appropriate measures in place to deal with any potential fallout from its digital restructure, including increased rates of anxiety.

About 70 per cent of ABC staff are experiencing undue stress, the union said. The claim comes from a survey involving 770 staff members across the country, with 40 per cent of respondents non-union members.

However, an ABC spokesman said the health and safety of all employees was one of the "key priorities" for the broadcaster.

"The policies and practices we have in place are designed to ensure the ongoing safety of all ABC employees through regular training and awareness campaigns," he said.

"The most recent enterprise agreement specifically addresses issues around workload intensity and stress. That agreement explicitly allows employees to raise any concerns with their manager for review."

There have been more than 80 redundancies at the ABC since March, with the broadcaster's current affairs schedule also getting a makeover.

While staff are positive about recent investments in regional and rural content, others claim the broadcaster is facing death by a thousand cuts thanks to decades of talent walking out the door.

The CPSU is taking the organisation to task ahead of Michelle Guthrie unveiling what is tipped to be one of the biggest restructures in its 85-year history.

The union wants the ABC to demonstrate it is meeting health and safety obligations and commit to meeting with safety representatives.

Sinddy Ealy, the CPSU's ABC secretary, said morale was very low at the moment.

"Most organisations only go through one or two restructures in a year," she said. "This is an organisation that has gone through 12 so far. There's so much instability."

Ealy said the union had put the ABC on notice, but so far management has not addressed its concerns around workplace stress and its impact on mental health.

She said more than half of ABC staff have reported increased workloads this year and just 10 per cent of those surveyed had trust in the broadcaster's senior leadership.

"When you've got 72 per cent of workers saying, 'Hey, we're experiencing undue stress levels and it's really impacting on us,' I don't think a workplace can make that an individual problem any more," she said.

"It's a cultural problem. And it's one they're not addressing. This is not about taking the ABC to task for the sake of it; this is actually a serious concern about the safety of ABC workers."

The most recent round of job losses at the ABC were voluntary redundancies. Staff have been emailed the contact details for support services whenever there is a round of redundancies.

In addition, the broadcaster has also encouraged its LGBTIQ workers to seek support in recent weeks if distressed after reporting on the government's controversial same-sex marriage survey.

In 2015, the ABC's staff engagement survey found 79 per cent of employees were of the view the broadcaster was meeting their expectations. The results of the 2017 survey are yet to be released.

This story ABC taken to task over 'dangerous' stress levels first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.