Journalists working at the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers announced a week-long strike after the Fairfax Media group said it would slash about 25 per cent of its editorial staff.
Fairfax is one of the top two newspaper owners in Australia, while Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is the other.
“The company earlier announced it was removing 125 full-time equivalent journalists from three newspapers and websites: Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age.
“The union had asked them not to take such decision. We are shocked and appalled,’’ Marcus Storm, Herald’s Science Editor, told journalists.
Fairfax had told their staff that the redundancies and restructuring would save the company 30 million Australian dollars ($22 million) a year.
Journalists walked out of the Fairfax building in Sydney and Melbourne after the staff held a vote on Wednesday.
In Canberra, press gallery journalists left the parliament while court reporters left the courtrooms in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Fairfax journo at Bell and Landry case whispers to person sitting next to her ‘we are on strike’, then stands and excuses herself from the court,” Nine television reporter Tom Steinfort said on his Twitter.
Storm, who has been working at the Herald for the past 12 years, said the strike was to pressure the management to reverse the decision.
“This is the eighth or ninth rounds of redundancies. Continuous cuts is an existential threat.
“Our concern is that we will be a one-newspaper town. We need diverse, vibrant media for the functioning of democracy,’’ he said.
He said a small number of union staff would put out Thursday’s newspapers, mostly with wire copies.
In 2016, Fairfax axed 120 editorial jobs from its newsrooms in Sydney and Melbourne. (dpa/NAN)