Fairfax Media will negotiate with editorial staff from today over proposed staff cuts announced this week, after journalists voted to return to work following a 24-hour strike that ended at 3pm on Thursday.
Staff from The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Canberra Times, The Newcastle Herald and The Illawarra Mercury joined the industrial action, which Fairfax Media declared unprotected, in response to job losses revealed to staff in meetings and via email early on Wednesday.
Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood sent an internal email late on Thursday urging staff to “stay the course” as negotiations follow in the coming days.
“I know people have strong views about the staffing proposals,” he wrote in the email.
“Now that the industrial action is over we can begin talking to the people whose jobs and roles may be affected.
“As everyone knows we have spent the last couple of years working on the way we deliver our media and services to ensure that Fairfax Media is around for the long haul and that our independent voice stays strong.
“We have embraced confronting changes to the way we work – and we must continue to adjust as the environment, technology and our consumers’ wants and needs evolve.
“While there will be – and should be – debate about how we are changing the company, I want you to know that nothing is done without serious thought and genuine consultation.
“We have been upfront about what we are doing and why. That will not change. Nor will our commitment to delivering the highest quality journalism.
“I know it’s not easy – but we have to stay the course.”
Fairfax Media held a series of staff meetings on Wednesday to announce to employees that up to 70 full time positions would be lost from their major metro mastheads.
Melbourne’s The Age and Sydney’s The Sydney Morning Herald will see staff reductions in editorial production, photography and in Fairfax’s Life Media division.
Fairfax managing director for its Australian Publishing Media arm, Allen Williams, announced the changes in an email distributed internally to Fairfax staff at 10.30am.
The email outlined the reduction of about 30 jobs to the photographic departments in Sydney and Melbourne, with the company planning to retain 10 full-time staff photographers and 10 photo desk staff to “work as part of a merged visuals commissioning desk”.
Fairfax plans on offsetting the loss of photographic resources by outsourcing more work to Getty Images, and told staff there would be significantly less direct commissioning of work to casual photographers, with Getty photographers picking up most assignments.
Mr Williams’ email also proposed a reduction of 35 jobs to the company’s editorial production departments in Sydney and Melbourne, with 10 of those positions shifting to roles that report direct to newsroom editors.
The recent announcement that Fairfax would not be renewing its current contract with Pagemasters, an Australian Associated Press subsidiary that provides sub-editing and production services, was also mentioned in Mr William’s email, in which he noted that “any new arrangements will absorb more copy-editing and page layout work”.
Additional to the cuts to photographic and editorial production departments, Fairfax has proposed a reduction of 15 full-time positions to Life Media, the company’s lifestyle-focused publishing unit. It also proposed a restructure to the division which “would create several new roles and these positions will be open for application to all News, Business and Life Media editorial staff”.
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