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Issue #1732      May 25, 2016

Focus on collective action

The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has launched an investigation into the industrial action taken by journalists at Fairfax Media in March.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is the federal government agency responsible for ensuring compliance by employers and employees with the Fair Work Act.

As part of its investigation, the FWO has sought the names, phone numbers and addresses of every person who took part in the action.

It has also sent journalist union the Media and Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) an order to provide any relevant documents from the period of the dispute.

MEAA has informed its members that if they are contacted by the FWO, they should immediately seek legal advice through the union.

This investigation highlights concerns long held by the union movement about the adequacy of Australia’s laws to protect the freedom of collective action by workers.

The union says the investigation by the FWO will not deter MEAA from campaigning to protect jobs and quality journalism at Fairfax’s publications.

“We remain of the view that cutting more editorial staff at Fairfax will compromise the ability to continue producing the quality and independent journalism upon which the reputation of the mastheads rests,” stated the union.

“We believed then, and we believe now, that there is a better, smarter way to make savings at Fairfax than cutting at the very core of what makes this company and its mastheads special.

“The public agrees with us. More than 10,000 of you signed our online petition within 48 hours of it being launched, and as a result, the company agreed to consider some alternative cost-savings that have reduced the proposed head count.

“We are still going through a painful process with management around voluntary redundancies, and it is sad to see some loyal staff leaving Fairfax.”

Next article – Warrior advocate for Indigenous rights

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