The Striking Age

Workers at The Age (and other Fairfax publications) have done gone on strike:

Fairfax Media journalists in Australia stage four-day strike

SYDNEY (AFP) — Journalists working for Australia’s second largest press group, Fairfax Media, on Thursday launched a four-day day strike to protest at plans to axe 550 jobs, staff and their union said.

Journalists at the company, which publishes the flagship Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, walked out two days after bosses said they were slashing five percent of the workforce to save 50 million dollars (43 million US)…

Funnily enough, the job cuts come at a time of fat profits for Fairfax: “Fairfax last week announced a 46.8 percent jump in net profit to 386.9 million dollars for 2007-08 on the back of a strong performance from its online businesses.”

And while the union is on strike, scabs are being used to produce what is likely to be a large number of unsold copies of this weekend’s newspapers:

Fairfax strike-breakers take over as staff walk out
Brad Norington
The Australian
August 29, 2008

FAIRFAX Media will use strike-breakers to publish its flagship newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review in a high-stakes battle with staff after journalists yesterday walked out until Monday in protest at 550 planned job cuts. A group of specially trained staff was put into action on Fairfax papers last night to ensure production could proceed…

Printers @ Fairfax are displaying their solidarity with management by staying on the job: “Australian Manufacturers and Workers Union national print secretary Steve Walsh said the union was monitoring the situation but his members would keep working” (Fairfax printers to work through strike, AAP, August 29, 2008). Although it’s possible that, with enough political pressure, printers might be persuaded to join the striking journalists; it’s likely that most workers would be reluctant to cross a picket line.

Finally, in a move that’s unlikely to win them much support — aka a PR blunder — poor old bloody Mike Carlton has lost his job for acting in solidarity with striking journalists by failing to submit a column:

Striking columnist Mike Carlton sacked
The Australian
August 29, 2008

RADIO broadcaster and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton has been sacked for refusing to write his weekly column during a strike. Carlton, a member of the journalists’ union, the MEAA, took the stand on the grounds that filing the column amounted to crossing a picket line. Carlton does the breakfast show on 2UE, owned by Fairfax Radio. A Fairfax spokeswoman confirmed Carlton had his contract to write a column for the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald terminated because of his refusal to write…

There’s presumably a picket line down on Spencer Street, which members of the public are free to visit and to show support. In the meantime, I just hope hackers don’t launch some kinda DDOS attack on Fairfax’s online services.

That would be just plain wrong, and cause management all kinda headaches.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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6 Responses to The Striking Age

  1. Asher says:

    But you didn’t link to the article on this by the coolest writer of them all, me! 😛

    See LibCom News, Aotearoa Indymedia or my blog.

  2. Liam says:

    Funnily enough the article about this in SMH doesn’t have a quote or anything from the union nor the strikers, but instead has 4 or more quotes from management, as well as a detailed summary of the management position:


  3. @ndy says:

    “The strike action has so far not spread to the company’s printing facilities and newspapers were produced and distributed as normal.”

    Holding Fire On Picket Lines At Printers
    Friday, 29 August 2008

    National Fairfax house committee met today on tactics and has decided to hold fire on picket lines at Chullora and Tullamarine for the moment. Protest gatherings are being held at One Darling Island in Sydney throughout today and at The Age’s Spencer Street building in Melbourne. Activities in Newcastle and Wollongong are ongoing.


    The MEAA also reports that there’s some threat of a lock-out:

    Media Alliance alert: Company threat to staff
    Saturday, 30 August 2008

    Dear Fairfax member,

    Members of your union’s negotiating team met with Fairfax management earlier today, following a request from the company. Ruth Pollard, Gerard Noonan, Chris Warren and Claire O’Rourke represented members, and the company sent Lloyd Whish-Wilson, Michael Gill and Greg Moses.

    What the company presented at the meeting was an ultimatum.

    The company told us that they would not allow staff members who are currently on strike to return to work on Monday unless we accepted the collective agreement offer in its current form.

    This top-down ultimatum delivered today stands to directly breach undertakings the company made yesterday afternoon in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission not to lock out staff who return to work on Monday.

    The company reiterated its ultimatum despite repeated undertakings from myself that no further unprotected action would take place and that staff were prepared to return to work as usual, on Monday morning, and thereafter, with no further bans in place.

    Your representatives reminded the company that any action to lock out staff would be unlawful and if they were to exercise their threat, we would pursue the company in the AIRC.

    Your national negotiating group met for two hours on Saturday evening to consider the situation.


  4. Asher says:

    One worker has already lost his job:

    “Earlier today [yesterday now], prominent columnist Mike Carlton was sacked after refusing to cross the picket line to write his weekly column for the Herald’s Saturday edition.”

  5. @ndy says:

    Ha! Just goes to show you don’t read my blog posts.

  6. Asher says:

    Woops, missed that. I’m still cooler than you though…

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