Journalists at Fairfax Media have voted to go on strike for 36 hours over the outsourcing of 66 editorial production jobs to New Zealand.
Print and online staff from The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Sunday Age, The Sun Herald, the Newcastle Herald and Wollongong’s Illawarra Mercury have gone on strike.
The strike is effective from Wednesday night.Advertisement: Story continues below http://ad-apac.doubleclick.net/adi/onl.smh.news/news/breakingnewsbus;cat=breakingnewsbus;cat1=business;ctype=article;pos=3;sz=300×250;tile=3;ord=4.4081008E7?
The move came as hundreds of journalists from publishers Fairfax and News Limited who were worried about their jobs met with union officials at stopwork meetings on Wednesday.
Fairfax staff walked out at 5.30pm (AEST).
Fairfax plans to move the mostly sub-editing jobs from newspapers in Newcastle and Wollongong to Fairfax Editorial Services in New Zealand.
Fairfax Media have not commented on the industrial action.
In February, the company launched a three-year $170 million savings program to combat plunging circulation with its share price down more than 50 per cent from a year ago, amid 10 per cent a year falls in revenue.
Falls in newspaper circulation in March are believed to be the biggest on record, with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the worst offenders.
Fairfax’s biggest shareholder and Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has publicly criticised Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett twice in the last week over the company’s performance.
The union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s director of media Paul Murphy said the outsourcing decision was wrong, with sub-editors “the heart of the newsroom”.
Regional newspapers were the strongest performers financially in print last year but were being targeted, leaving Fairfax journalists confused, he said.
There have also been reports this week about News Ltd announcing between 400 and 1,000 job cuts within days, with the company cutting about 12 jobs in Sydney and Gosford on Wednesday.
The MEAA’s Mr Murphy does not think major cuts will happen at the moment, saying News Limited had been consulting openly with his union and had not said yet there would be redundancies.
However Australia’s newspaper industry was given a dire outlook for the next three years by EL&C Baillieu Stockbroking media analyst Ivor Ries.
He said competitor websites such as realestate.com.au were posting record earnings, the take-up of devices like iPads was increasing and that meant more shrinkage for newspapers for another two-to-three years.
“The newspaper will be around but they will be smaller,” he told AAP.
“Within two-to-three years these papers will have more people working on the online product than on the print one.”
Support the journos.
Wollongong rally at the Illawarra Mercury, Thursday 1200hrs
Newcastle rally at Civic Park, Newcastle on Sat 2/6 1300 hrs