Fairfax strike continues

JOURNALISTS from Fairfax’s biggest Australian newspapers continued their strike yesterday in protest against plans to move dozens of editorial production jobs offshore.

Staff from publications including the Newcastle Herald, the Illawarra Mercury, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review walked off the job for 36 hours at 5.30pm on Wednesday after learning Fairfax planned to move 66 editorial production jobs from newspapers in Newcastle and Wollongong to NewZealand.

Canberra Times journalists also walked out yesterday.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) says the outsourcing of jobs, mostly in subediting, means Fairfax is taking cheap shortcuts at the expense of quality journalism.

The striking journalists acknowledge they could face fines for taking unprotected action.

Fairfax Media management has expressed disappointment at the journalists’ strike action – which is due to end this morning – but says the changes will position the company better to take advantage of opportunities in digital media.

Fairfax says that no reporting or photographic positions would be affected by the move and that the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury would continue to operate the largest newsrooms in their respective communities.

Federal member for Newcastle Sharon Grierson said the decision to move 66 jobs from newspapers in Newcastle and Wollongong to New Zealand was ‘‘devastating’’.

‘‘These job losses happen to real people, people we know,’’ she told Parliament yesterday.

Ms Grierson said she had called Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood yesterday morning to demand an explanation.

‘‘[He] was genuinely concerned about the human cost [but] also that these measures are a necessary step to sustain mastheads and not destroy them.’’

Newcastle Herald journalists are scheduled to hold a protest rally in Civic Park at 1pm tomorrow.

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