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Fairfax print closures ‘just the beginning’

Friday, 20 July 2018
By Graham Osborne
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Fairfax Media printing plant at Ormiston, Brisbane.

The AMWU says the ‘devastating’ closures of Fairfax newspaper printing plants at Ormiston in Brisbane and Beresfield in Newcastle could be just the beginning, with the North Richmond site next in the firing line.

“This is just the start of further consolidation in the newspaper sector in Australia,” says AMWU Queensland print division secretary Danny Dougherty. “It’s just the beginning. They could shut down North Richmond next then move on to the sites in Melbourne.”

Former rivals Fairfax Media and News Corp this week announced a ‘landmark’ plan to share their printing networks in a consolidation restructure that will see Fairfax close its Ormiston and Beresfield printing centres with the loss of more than 120 print jobs.

Fairfax at North Richmond.

As part of the deal, Fairfax metropolitan newspapers currently produced at North Richmond, including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review, will now be printed at News Corp Chullora.

“This change will open up print windows allowing North Richmond to absorb work from Fairfax’s Beresfield site, including for a number of ACM titles, as well as some products for News Corp,” Fairfax said in a statement. “The announced changes will impact printing schedules at the North Richmond site. Once the transition of work is complete, the company will assess its operations, including rostering and staffing levels, and consult and engage with staff regarding any changes that may be necessary.”

Doughtery says the announcement this week took the workers by surprise. “There were no discussions. They were called into a meeting at Ormiston on Wednesday morning and told their jobs were gone. It’s very hard for people in these situations. No-one’s prepared. It all happened very quickly and they’re shocked and devastated.”

At least 55 printing workers lost their jobs at the Brisbane plant and another 70 people are out the door at Beresfield in Newcastle, NSW.

“Then there’s the flow on effect to people like the drivers who are delivering the papers,” says Doughtery. “We’re still not sure what’s happening in other parts of the company, with people who work in digital, as well as editors and journalists. There’s talk that Fairfax will sell the building.”

‘Our members are angry’: Lorraine Cassin, AMWU.

Lorraine Cassin, national secretary of the AMWU printing division, says the union will meet with Fairfax to discuss any further changes to the operation at North Richmond, which recently completed a $20 million upgrade.

“We were blindsided by the announcement and our members are angry,” says Cassin. “Fairfax Media has indicated all affected employees will be paid their full entitlements but we know that these closures will hit hard and we will be working with the company to identify redeployment opportunities.

“While Fairfax Media has stated that the rationalisation is designed to effect ‘efficiencies,’ we urge the company to recognise that its highly skilled printers have given many years of loyal service to the newspaper industry.”

Mass meetings of sacked workers will be held on Monday.

One Response to “Fairfax print closures ‘just the beginning’”

  1. July 23, 2018 at 5:01 pm,

    William Bell.

    It’s very tough for the workers, I’ve been made redundant and it’s a kick in the guts but unfortunately there is no headroom in the newspaper game, circulations are declining, the ‘many years of loyal service to the newspaper industry’ is past tense. The future doesn’t hold ‘many years’ for newspaper printers. It holds more closures. Lorraine Cassin & the AMWU are out of touch. The union would be better assisting with re-training and educating their members in preparedness for the new digital world.

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