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Issue #1550      6 June 2012

Rallies against offshoring news expertise

Community leaders, members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and concerned members of the public will held rallies in Wollongong and Newcastle on the weekend against the proposal to send the quality control centre of the newsrooms offshore to New Zealand.

Messages of support to staff and outrage at the company’s proposal to offshore more than 60 editorial jobs at the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury have been flooding in, with local political figures coming out in support of keeping those jobs in the communities they serve.

This has also included numerous messages of support from members and officials of the New Zealand Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union who expressed their solidarity and support in preserving local editorial jobs.

More than 800 journalists from the print and digital operations of the Illawarra Mercury, Newcastle Herald, Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times were back to work last Friday after a 36 hour stoppage. They have called for the company to sit down and work with them to ready Fairfax for the digital future and keep production local.

The Alliance federal secretary, Christopher Warren, wrote to Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood and Fairfax Regional Media CEO, Allan Browne, requesting formal consultation regarding the company’s proposals to offshore more than 60 editorial jobs.

The company had proposed a seven day consultation period. The MEAA has expressed concern about such a brief consultation period for what would be an extreme restructure.

The Alliance remains concerned about the proposed process of consultation over change within the regional publishing division of Fairfax Media and that the ad-hoc and exclusionary approach has seen the company embark on wrong-headed and extreme proposals that have provoked staff across Fairfax Media to take significant industrial action.

The MEAA has proposed that a working group of key management figures and senior editorial Alliance members from Newcastle and Wollongong be established to explore alternatives to this proposal that will position both mastheads to meet the challenges of a digital newsroom and keep these important roles on these communities.

The committee would have a deadline to report on their deliberations by June 19. Both parties would have an opportunity to consider their report for a week (until June 26) and consult with affected members.

The Alliance also raised concerns over the company’s dealing with proposals of significant structural change at other regional publications, and has called on Fairfax to cease their current ad-hoc, dripping-out of proposed changes, which will only lead to further uncertainty and disruption.  

Next article – Mabo – Two decades later, his legacy lives on

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