Fairfax to offshore jobs
Fairfax has told the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (the MEAA) it will go ahead with its plans to send 66 sub-editing jobs from regional newspapers, especially those in Newcastle and Wollongong, to New Zealand.
Two weeks ago Fairfax staff walked off the job for 3 days in response to the proposal. This was illegal strike action under Labor’s industrial laws and the union leadership painted it as a membership initiative, presumably to try to avoid $33,000 daily fines on the union.
Illegal strike action is what is needed again, only more so.
The MEAA statement condemns the decision but seems to accept it. Certainly there is no talk of further action or even meetings.
I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation and will be happy to be proved wrong but my guess is the union leadership are shit scared of their members and their militancy more than they are of Fairfax.
The union put an alternative sub-hub proposal based in Australia centred on cutting jobs from 60 to 40. Their statement claimed this would have been more effective than offshoring in reducing staff numbers. Don’t believe me? Here is what their statement said, in part:
The sub hub proposal would have reduced the number of journalists previously seen as necessary in stand-alone newsroom structures from about 60 staff to 40. Given the local knowledge and expertise of existing staff, it would be possible to operate in Newcastle and Wollongong with fewer staff numbers than the company’s flawed New Zealand scheme.
It is or rather should not be the role of unions to propose to management how to cut jobs. It should be its role to defend all jobs under threat, not throw one third to the wolves.
Perhaps what was driving the union leadership was not so much the job losses but their offshoring to New Zealand.
And maybe Julia Gillard’s industrial relations laws have emasculated the leadership. That is why the rank and file needs to take control of the fight to defend jobs.
If Fairfax can get away with this, no area will be safe.
Now that the union leadership’s plan for cutting jobs and costs has collapsed, the only alternative to defend all the jobs immediately under threat and those in the future likely to be under attack is to strike, and not just for 3 days.
That action would also be illegal under Labor’s industrial laws.
Clearly it is the role of the rank and file to win the argument for a strike, an indefinite strike, and impose the decision on the MEAA leadership if necessary.
When the union members went out two weeks ago, scabs ran the production of Fairfax’s major papers like the Financial Review, the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. They could not produce a decent paper long term but they could hold out for a few days.
If MEAA members went out indefinitely at Fairfax the revenue loss would in all likelihood quickly drag management back to the negotiating table.
Many years ago the BLF had a slogan – if you don’t fight you lose. It is as true today as it was then.
Close Fairfax down until it withdraws its job cuts.
John is a member of the MEAA.