ABC managing director David Anderson will meet staff over their grievances on the public broadcaster’s Israel-Hamas coverage and the sacking of fill-in radio host Antoinette Lattouf.
The ABC’s internal crisis grew on Monday after about 200 staff met via an online union meeting and passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Anderson.
Sources at the meeting told The Australian that the ABC’s global affairs editor, John Lyons, dominated the meeting, voicing annoyance at the handling of coverage of the Israel-Hamas war and even changes in directions to the use of the word “genocide” in stories that meant it should not be reported without challenge.
Lattouf’s sacking was also discussed at the union meeting.
The Australian can reveal that just three days before she signed with the ABC in November, Lattouf boasted on social media she could not be fired over her views relating to the Israel-Gaza war.
Frustrated employees at the meeting said Mr Anderson had failed to properly handle outside attacks criticising staff and he had not defended the ABC’s integrity.
Just hours after the staff declared a lack of confidence in him, Mr Anderson said in a statement: “I have listened to and heard the concerns of members of staff and I will meet with them in the coming weeks.”
A motion was also passed, by 128 votes to three, for a vote of no confidence in Mr Anderson and stating that he must take urgent action to win back the confidence of staff.
The motion included that senior management must win staff and public confidence back, work with unions to build a culturally informed process for supporting staff under attack, address inequality for staff of colour and uphold a transparent complaints process when grievances were lodged about staff.
The union push came as it was revealed that Lattouf had told her social media followers that because she was a freelance journalist she couldn’t be sacked and said “f..k them” to anybody who did not want to work with her as a result of her views on the Israel-Gaza war.
The posts by Lattouf were shared on her Instagram and TikTok accounts to more than 66,000 followers and included her praising journalists who signed an open letter calling for newsrooms to treated unverified information from the government of Israel and terror group Hamas with the same “professional scepticism”.
In a three-minute video posted on November 24, she told her followers: “As an independent and freelance journalist, nobody can fire me.”
Lattouf, who has Lebanese heritage, then laughs and says: “I will certainly be using my voice and sharing my concerns.
“I have thought about future job prospects, so if somebody doesn’t want to work with me because I care about dozens of journalists who have been slaughtered by (sic) doing their work, because I care about the 1000s and 1000s of children who have been killed and civilians harmed … then honestly f..k them.”
Lattouf was asked to be a fill-in radio presenter to replace ABC Sydney radio’s mornings host Sarah Macdonald for five days from December 18, but she was sacked after three shifts on December 20.
She shared a Human Rights Watch post about the Israel-Gaza war that read: “The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza.”
She says she was sacked because of her ethnicity.
On Monday, the law firm representing Lattouf said in a media release the ABC now claimed she was “not sacked from her role”.