Fairfax editorial staff are set to strike until Monday after the publisher announced plans to cut 120 editorial jobs, more than 12.5% of the newsroom.
The cuts will be made through redundancies and cost-cutting measures at The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), The Age and Australian Financial Review.
Staff have held emergency stop-work meetings to consider industrial action. Sydney Morning Herald journalist says on Twitter that "Journos are angry", with the vote in SMH newsroom overwhelming in favour of striking.
The move will likely see walkouts at the SMH, The Age, The Canberra Times, The Brisbane Times, the Australian Financial Review and associated online platforms.
SMH federal politics editor Bevan Shields announced on Twitter the SMH and Parliament House newsrooms had voted to strike until Monday.
Fairfax has acknowledged the strike saying it advises "that some journalists from mastheads are taking unprotected industrial action relating to an announcement to staff today."
Following the announcement, Fairfax sent an email to staff saying: “This strike action is unlawful. When employees take unlawful industrial action we have no choice but to dock their pay.”
Alymer said he was "disappointed" in the industrial action, stating that no staff should not feel pressured to take industry action.
Fairfax Media CEO, Greg Hywood, says: "The initiatives we have proposed today are part of that adaptation and are necessary to sustain high quality journalism.”
The publisher says it will continue to publish across print and digital as usual.
Sacking 120 journalists is necessary to maintain high quality journalism ...said no-one ever, until today #fairgofairfax— Paul Bentley (@paulbentleymelb) March 17, 2016
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) is supporting axed employees, saying they will "fight for every job". Journalists are also showing their support on Twitter using the hashtag #fairgofairfax which has been trending since this morning.
Solidarity with my striking colleagues at Fairfax. Don't cut the guts of the newspapers. #fairgofairfax— Clementine Ford (@clementine_ford) March 17, 2016
Truth is we all need quality and independent journalism for a strong democracy to thrive. Solidarity with fairfax staff today #fairgofairfax— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) March 17, 2016
Staff were informed of the cuts this morning via an internal email from Alymer.
The email said: “We will shortly enter a consultation period with staff and the MEAA on a proposal to reduce costs across news and business in the Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms by the equivalent of 120 full-time employees.
“We believe that we can do this through redundancies, tightening contributor budgets and reducing travel costs and expenses.”
A Fairfax spokesperson told AdNews that the reductions are only an equivalent cost number, meaning it may be less than 120 staff that are let go. The spokesperson adds that while it seems like a large figure of staff, Fairfax has "hundreds" of journalists in its newsroom.
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