Journalists from the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review have voted to strike for a week, which includes coverage of next Tuesday's federal budget, in response to significant staff cuts announced by Fairfax management on Wednesday.
The latest round of redundancies, the specific details of which were announced on Wednesday, will see 125 full-time equivalent positions leave AFR, The Age and the Herald. Ten people have already taken a redundancy in the last month, meaning 115 more positions will be cut in total.
Union members of the company held stop-work meetings on Wednesday afternoon, where it was resolved that they would go out on a week-long strike. This period of industrial action will mean the three mastheads will not cover the federal budget in Canberra on May 9.
Marcus Strom, the Herald's science editor and a board member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), gave word of the strike on Twitter.
Later, word emerged that staff from the Brisbane Times -- another Fairfax masthead -- would join the strike for a week. Newcastle Herald staff will also strike until Thursday.
"What's at risk here is a one newspaper town in Sydney and Melbourne... where the only commercial media outlet you can turn to is a Murdoch media outlet, a virtual monopoly," said Herald state political editor Sean Nicholls outside the Fairfax building in Sydney, following the announcement.
"That's an appalling situation and threatens the pillars of democracy."
Many other Fairfax staff also shared the news online.
SMH reporters just voted in favour of a week long strike. That includes our budget coverage.— Stephanie Peatling (@srpeatling) May 3, 2017
This takes in the budget. Not a decision taken lightly. At all. https://t.co/T7ZMzmx5Dn— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) May 3, 2017
In a statement, a Fairfax Media spokesperson told HuffPost Australia the company was "disappointed" by the strike.
"We are disappointed in the decision by some of our masthead journalists to take unprotected industrial action for seven days after a month-long consultation period about necessary changes in our Metro Media business," the statement read.
"But it is not the first time we have had industrial action. As in the previous episodes, we will continue to publish across print and digital as usual."
Fairfax journalists went on strike for several days last year after a similar round of job cuts.
Journalists from other media companies shared their support for the strike action.
SMH and Age staff walk out of Parliament House press gallery after voting to go on strike for 7 days. pic.twitter.com/777KkuTZkS— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) May 3, 2017
Taking industrial action, particularly a wildcat strike, is a hugely brave move. Good luck, legends. #fairgofairfax— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) May 3, 2017
Feel horrid for the Fairfax staff - for most today is not just a shitty day, but the culmination of a shitty couple of months of uncertainty— Charles Croucher (@ccroucher9) May 3, 2017
The MEAA updated its members too.
HuffPost Australia is a joint venture of HuffPost and Fairfax.
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