Fairfax slammed by Union
Fairfax Media has been slammed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) for failing to consult with staff before announcing its decision to close down its two largest newspaper-printing facilities at Chullora and Tullamarine as part of its restructuring efforts.
It emerged this week that the media giant would be sacking up to 1,900 people from its operations over the next three years as it changes the format of its two leading broadsheets, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age, and transforms the operational structure of its entire news network to become a digital first organisation.
However, as the AMWU discovered this week when it visited workers at the two newspaper printing facilities to be shut down by 2014, news of the coming job cuts trickled down to employees through external sources.
Following the meeting with Fairfax workers at the company’s Tullamarine print centre this week, the AMWU’s national print division secretary, Lorraine Cassin (pictured), said it was a ‘disgrace’ that workers had to find out about the company’s decision to close the facilities through the media.
“Fairfax should be interested in their workers that have worked loyally for many years. To hear this decision through the media is a disgrace,” said Cassin following the meeting. “We were in the process of consulting with Fairfax around some restructures and changes to shifts. These were designed to save jobs and we went into those discussions in good faith.
“But that’s all off the table now. There is no good faith between the company and our union at present. While we were trying to save jobs they were in the back room discussing the closure of Tullamarine and Chullora. No consultation, no discussion,” she said.
The AMWU has said it will take its case against Fairfax Media to FairWork Australia to seek an explanation as to the size of the coming job losses and why the company tried to hide its decision from workers.
Cassin said that, while she understands the company is responding to market pressures, its conduct to workers during this period of drastic change has made it difficult for all parties involved to come to a long-term solution.
“We know there are changes confronting the industry and we’ve been working with the company and their competitors to confront some of the long-term issues. However we don’t take it lightly when they come out with the stroke of a pen and make this announcement,” she said. “Nor do we accept the position being bandied around that the only publication from now on is digital. Digital is only one stream. The community still wants printed newspapers. In our view the decision taken by Fairfax is a bad one.”