28 Aug 2008

Fairfax job cuts 'blow to democracy'

4:56 pm on 28 August 2008

New Zealand's biggest private sector union says the loss of 160 jobs with Fairfax Media is a blow to democracy.

The Australian-owned company announced the New Zealand losses on Tuesday as it looks to cut costs.

Fairfax publishes nine newspapers including The Dominion Post, the Sunday Star-Times and The Press. At present. it employs 2500 people.

The company is reducing its workforce in New Zealand and Australia by 5% saving $A50 million, but says the redundancies will not compromise editorial content.

General Secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Andrew Little says the layoffs will be a huge blow to already strained newsrooms.

He says New Zealanders' right to be informed about major issues is under threat as a result.

Fairfax's New Zealand chief executive Joan Withers denies that the redundancies will compromise the quality of editorial content.

Fairfax says the cuts, which it describes as part of a "business improvement programme", will start later this year.