Fairfax declares editorial strike ‘unlawful’

Fairfax Media management has declared strike action taken by editorial staff as “unlawful”.

Journalists voted to take industrial action yesterday after the publisher announced plans to cut the equivalent of 120 full-time positions across its news and business verticals.

The action will end on the first shift Monday. Participants in the strike will have their pay docked.

Hundreds of journalists from The AgeThe Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald walked off the job after a series of stop-work meetings yesterday.

The Canberra Times and website The Brisbane Times subsequently joined the action.

Fairfax announced the cuts on Thursday morning. It said they would be achieved through redundancies, tightening contributor budgets and reducing travel costs and expenses.

Editorial director Sean Alymer said in an email to staff that the cost cutting would be based on “on our understanding of our audience and the importance of our brands”.

“While we are much more efficient in producing quality journalism, we still have a way to go,” Mr Alymer said in the email.

“Change is a permanent part of our industry. It is a reflection of what we know about the ways our readers are consuming our stories. We must continue to evolve with them.”

The redundancies follow Fairfax’s announcement in February that it would undertake a major editorial restructure of The Agand The Sydney Morning Herald, the appointment of new editors for The SMH and The Australian Financial Review and half-year results that showed a 4.2 per cent lift in profits, predominately driven by growth in revenue from real estate business Domain.

Mr Aylmer said Fairfax’s reporting would continue to focus on investigations, politics, justice, breaking news, sport, entertainment and business. He had planned to hold staff meetings in Sydney today and Melbourne tomorrow to discuss the company’s proposal.

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