Fairfax staff have warned management that they are prepared to escalate industrial action if the company does not consult them adequately in relation to yet another proposed restructure.
Fairfax announced on Wednesday it would start consulting on its plan to cut $30 million from the editorial budget — the equivalent of about 200 jobs.
In yesterday’s resolution, staff condemned job cuts and a push in any ideological direction, and asked for more detail about what proportion of the $30 million savings would come from more job losses. Fairfax has said the figure includes non-staff costs, but it has not indicated how much, or which non-staff costs would be targeted.
“[Cuts] will inevitably affect the high quality, fearless journalism we have produced at Fairfax for more than 150 years,” the staff resolution said. “We reject any ideological direction. We report the facts fairly and accurately without fear or favour.
“Staff feel the company is preparing to consult with us while holding a $30 million gun to our heads.”
Cuts will be made to the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, WA Today and Brisbane Times.
In the five-page memo sent to staff on Wednesday, Fairfax outlined focus areas for editorial coverage, saying it would rely on syndicated content and contributors for content in areas including entertainment and arts. It indicated the mastheads would prioritise stories that would be widely consumed.
The memo signalled a push of a “pro-investor, pro-consumer view of business”, which staff have objected to.
“We believe in the merits of market-based solutions to economic challenges and an Australia that rewards aspiration and hard work. We want to be at the political centre of the rigorous debate over how best to achieve these important objectives,” the memo said.
Staff have given management until Monday to respond to their requests.
“Staff will not engage in any consultation without this information, and will consider escalating our response,” they said in their resolution. — Emily Watkins
Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote from Fairfax’s memo to the staff resolution.