Fairfax executives Garry Linnell and Jack Matthews have attacked their own journalists for taking strike action and congratulated staff who kept working in a threatening email sent to Age and Sydney Morning Herald staffers.

In a sternly worded screed the duo unleashed a tirade against Fairfax hacks who apparently cajoled others to down keyboards for 36 hours last week to defend 66 sackings at the Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury:

“It is unacceptable for any of our staff to be pressured or intimidated into taking industrial action or harassed in relation to their decision not to participate in such action. We will be supporting all staff who choose to continue working.

“We remind you all of your obligations under the Fairfax Code of Conduct click here, Workplace Behaviour: EEO policy click here, and the Workplace Behaviour: Anti Bullying click here policies. Any intimidation or harassment of staff constitutes a breach of these policies and the Company will take disciplinary action where appropriate.”

The email was sent just hours after Crikey uploaded an internal video of Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood lecturing employees about the need to change the company’s “dysfunctional” culture. Bemused staff were puzzled by jargon-heavy phrases such as “customer centricity” and “commercial focus” and slammed the sacking plan as an example of exactly the same “silos” the CEO was proposing to eliminate.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is locked in negotiations with the company over the “near-shoring” plan to send the regional subbing jobs to New Zealand, with a number of alternatives floated including “an in-sourced multiplatform virtual sub hub” located in Newcastle and Wollongong.

According to the Alliance, the sub hub would be responsible for producing newspaper content across multiple mastheads and platforms and would end up cutting staff by about one-third, or 20 positions, as an alternative to shipping 66 positions across the ditch.

“A geographic base maintained in Newcastle and Wollongong will strengthen the community connection of the papers with their regions and so financially strengthen the company,” the union told staff.

“This is because commitment and engagement with the communities of the Hunter and the Illawarra depends on journalists embedded in and understanding those communities..the proposal is considerably more economically thrifty when compared to Fairfax Regional Media’s offshoring proposal, as it requires less staff and removes the additional cost of redeploying the positions.”

Meanwhile, The Age‘s House Committee met on Wednesday afternoon to decide on its next course of action. They believe last week’s action rattled management who were dismayed at the sight of 800 journalists fighting back against their employer. And they are in stitches after the company announced that it will roll out its Annual Fairfax Media Employee Survey next week — an opportunity, Fairfax says, to “have your say, make a difference and create change.”

“The survey is designed to give staff the opportunity to express their opinions and provide feedback on what it is like to work at Fairfax Media and what the company needs to do to improve … complete the survey for your chance to win one of 12 iPads or iPhones,” the media giant pleads.

One senior Age journalist was scathing: “There was a similar survey after they booted out the subs last year. Which loony is running this asylum?”

Further details of Hywood’s “Fairfax of the Future” scheme to integrate the company’s previously-separate print and digital arms are expected to come to light in coming days.

Fairfax shares closed at 58 cents this afternoon after hitting a record low of 56.5 cents in early trade, the impact, analysts said, of a large institutional shareholder dumping their stake in frustration.