Fairfax Media yesterday morning emailed staff notifying them that 120 journalists would be made redundant through a combination of redundancies, tightening contributor budgets and reducing travel costs and expenses.
While some journos took to Twitter to voice their disappointment, the majority have voted to strike until Monday when the cuts are made official.
Fairfax has called the strikes “unlawful” and according to reports will be docking the journos their weekend pay until the masses return to their desks.
A new email was sent out yesterday from editorial director Sean Aylmer, in which he said, “Today, after we announced a proposal to reduce costs across News and Business in Sydney and Melbourne, some journalists took strike action following authorised stop work meetings.
“This strike action is unlawful. When employees take unlawful industrial action we have no choice but to dock their pay.”
Stop-work meetings have reportedly been held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra today following the email from Aylmer, informing staff of the job cuts and freelance budget slashes, as a way of grappling with the decline in print advertising.
The strikes are expected to severely impact the weekend newspapers, with the bulk of Fairfax’s editorial team ceasing work.
A statement from Fairfax said, “Some journalists from mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, the Brisbane Times and The Australian Financial Review are taking unprotected industrial action relating to an announcement to staff today.
“The company will continue to publish across print and digital as usual.”
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) chief executive Paul Murphy is far from in favour of the proposed cuts.
“This is a body blow. It’s the staff on the newsroom floor who have driven the transition to digital and through all the challenges continued to produce high quality independent journalism.
“And this is the reward. Yet another savage cut to editorial. We will be fighting for every job.”
Fairfax Media chief executive officer, Greg Hywood, said, “We are operating in an ever-changing highly competitive media environment which involves rapid evolution of our publishing model. The initiatives we have proposed today are part of that adaptation and are necessary to sustain high quality journalism.”
The hashtag #fairgofairfax has started trending Australia-wide on Twitter now, with many industry folk taking to the medium to express their disappointment with the news and solidarity as journalists.
— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) March 17, 2016
— Caitlin Fitzsimmons (@niltiac) March 17, 2016
— david rowe (@roweafr) March 17, 2016
— Saint Bhakthi (@bhakthi) March 17, 2016
Newc Herald journos and photographers have voted to strike until Saturday in solidarity with our Sydney and Melb colleagues #fairgofairfax
— Dan Proudman (@Proudman74) March 17, 2016
— sienna mihaly (@SiennaMihaly) March 17, 2016
— Lisa Visentin (@LisaVisentin) March 17, 2016