Management of John Fairfax and journalists at TheSydney Morning Herald are heading for a nasty industrial dispute that will come to a head in the next week to ten days.

It’s
understood that Fairfax and the house committee of the journalists
union are arguing over a new redundancy scheme that could see between
20 and 100 positions eliminated in Sydney. The redundancy scheme is specifically aimed at the SMH following a sharp drop in its classified advertisements and an equally strong decline in display advertising.

The
economic slowdown in NSW is to blame for the situation: TV and radio
stations based in Sydney also report sharp drops in ad revenues in
September, much sharper than elsewhere.

The impending brawl could be the first big test of new Fairfax CEO David Kirk and the newly-appointed SMH editor,
Alan Oakley. Cost cuts are going to be the pivotal part of both their
roles at Fairfax – but they probably didn’t think they’d be this soon.

Peter Fray

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