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ABC/Radio Australia Journalists On 24-Hour Strike

MELBOURNE (Pacnews) - More than 600 journalists of the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which includes Radio Australia, early this morning walked off their jobs over a dispute on wages and conditions, Pacnews reports.

The 24-hour strike, which started at 5am today, was called by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) after talks broke down between ABC management and the union over an enterprise bargaining agreement. The strike will affect Radio Australia's news and current affairs broadcasts.

A spokesman for ABC management said programmes will be back to normal on Thursday.

The journalists' union, which covers 25 per cent of ABC's 4000 staff and all the journalists, called the strike last Friday after 18 months of failed talks.

An ABC memo to staff said they were damaging the ABC's reputation as a reliable national broadcaster and they could expect to have their pay docked if they took part in the action.

An ABC spokeswoman said the broadcaster would try to minimise disruptions to news services: "We think it is irresponsible for journalists to take this sort of action and we are going to do whatever we can to stay on the air".

A senior ABC manager yesterday said the organisers of the strike had tried to make the action coincide with the first day of work of the ABC's new Managing Director, Jonathan Shier, "but they couldn't even get that right - he starts on Friday"...PNS

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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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