Australian journalists to strike over job cuts

5:15 pm on 3 May 2017

Staff at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne have voted to walk off the job for a week over Fairfax's plan to cut 125 editorial jobs - roughly a quarter of its newsroom - as part of a $AU30 million restructure in Australia.

The Commerce Commission has declined a merger which would have created New Zealand’s biggest news media company
Fairfax Media NZ, Stuff.co.nz, 
NZME, NZ Herald.

Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

Staff were informed of the cuts this morning by email and in a meeting with editorial director Sean Aylmer.

"While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy program we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section-writer roles," Mr Aylmer said.

Fairfax will also cap rates offered to freelance contributors and slash payments to casuals, aimed at cutting $3 million from the budget.

Mr Aylmer also signalled a change in editorial focus with the key mastheads - The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today - publishing fewer state-based stories.

The decision drew a furious response from the journalists union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the union was appalled by the decision.

"The decision indicates that, yet again, Fairfax is opting for savage cuts that will only weaken its business further rather than investing in its products and working to achieve smarter outcomes," Mr Murphy said

"None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts.

"This will only undermine and damage its mastheads further, alienating its audience and leaving the editorial staff remain have to work harder and harder to fill the gaps."

The announcement comes almost a year after the company cut 120 editorial jobs from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Australian Financial Review.

Earlier today a proposed merger between the New Zealand arm of Fairfax Media and NZME was declined by the Commerce Commission, who said it would have concentrated media ownership and influence to "an unprecedented extent".

- ABC

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