From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Mitchell tells Williams & co who’s boss. Twenty redundancies from The Australian? Not on your nelly, one newsroom insider tells Crikey: “The 20 redundancies are on top of 13-15 who will go in the next week or so, before the round of 20 even begins,” our tipster writes. “The total may end up being be more like mid-30s or perhaps 40.” Our informant reckons one general desk sub (Seumas Phelan), one arts writer, one features layout sub, a sports desk night editor, one artist, one editorial assistant and four business desk subs are heading out the door:

“Several appear to have gone from the website staff, but they were new people and no one knew them very well, and it’s unclear how many have gone. Several more are considering offers, or have payouts in the works, and this was before yesterday. Mitchell’s speech [to staff on Monday] was appalling. Not a word of thanks to the staff who were leaving, just a mention at the start that ‘some of you have probably heard of a few redundancies’, or words to that effect. The only way this can work without hiring more staff is probably to cut editions …”

Editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell told us that he has written personally to many of those going and will say his goodbyes to those yet to sign off. “And I would point out that in percentage terms The Oz will be faring better than most papers in this country,” he said. “In fact the subs will lose about half what they would have had I agreed to management proposals.”

Trouble for Conroy in council report? Crikey has been told that the upcoming Victorian Ombudsman’s report into Darebin Council could make gut-wrenching reading for some key operators in Stephen Conroy’s northern suburbs factional orbit.

Moonlighting in the sunshine state? Up in Queensland, we hear that a certain LNP backbencher is moonlighting in their pre-election role. “Not enough money or too much time on their hands?” asks our mole from north of the border.

SackWatch: Victoria’s mandarins. As public service jobs are shed across most states and at the federal level, an insider from the Victorian public service gives us their take on the process:

“The Victorian Public Service is in complete disarray. No respect for the workforce. No consideration. Excessive demands and strain being put on employees. The voluntary departure packages, announced via the terrible “sustainable government initiative” are deplorable. It has taken nearly a year for Ted and company to have the decency to let staff know about the packages. No one is fooled — the VPS scheme will not get the numbers down by 2013. No one believes the message that “natural attrition” will reduce numbers by 2013. Show the public service some respect and tell the truth — redundancies will have to occur.

“Department of Sustainability has a toxic culture … Department of Education: morale? What morale? We have a skills shortage yet the TAFE sector has been savaged. Everything tightly scripted and controlled, no clarity for staff. Staff being frozen out. Consumer Affairs: terrible culture. Staff being frozen out and not invited to meetings, briefings, etc. Will they restructure? Staff in tears, apparently, and not coping. Is management listening? Health: the less said, the better. Sustainability Victoria: staff on stress leave and little or no direction. The people of Victoria deserve better. The people employed via the public service deserve better. Show some decency, ethics and morals. Regardless of your opinion of public servants, this goes beyond that — this is about common decency and supporting staff that will lose their jobs. The majority of staff appear to be working two jobs due to the “recruitment freeze”. Never has morale been so low.”

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