Fairfax Media has once again been plunged into turmoil today, after journalists voted to walk off the job and strike for a week in protest of the company’s decision to layoff 25% of its news room workforce.

The job cuts come as the company attempts to shed $30 million in costs, and represents the loss of the equivalent of 125 full-time editorial positions at the company.

115 full-time roles are set to be slashed from newsrooms across the country, while rates offered to freelance contributors will be capped, and payments to casuals will be slashed as the company desperately tries to keep its operations streamlined and afloat.

The cuts were announced to staff today in an email sent by editorial director Sean Aylmer, who simultaneously opened up a voluntary redundancy program for staff to decide their own future by next Tuesday.

“While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy program we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section-writer roles.”

In response, Fairfax journos at major mastheads including The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald have voted to walk off the job for seven days, which will mean both publications will still be on strike when the Federal Budget is delivered next Tuesday night.

Staff in newsrooms and on assignment immediately stood and walked off the job the moment the vote to strike was confirmed.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance was particularly furious at the company’s decision today, given that it happens to coincide with World Press Freedom Day.

The union minced no words in ethering Fairfax’s decision in a statement posted to their website earlier today.

“MEAA is appalled at the decision of Fairfax Media management to cut 125 full-time equivalent positions, or 25 per cent of its journalists, from its metropolitan newspapers.
The decision indicates that, yet again, Fairfax is opting for savage cuts that will only weaken its business further rather than investing in its products and working to achieve smarter outcomes.”

Meanwhile MEAA CEO Paul Murphy continued the blast by withering Fairfax bosses for constantly cutting frontline media staff, despite being a frontline media business.

“None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts. This will only undermine and damage its mastheads further, alienating its audience and leaving the editorial staff that remain having to work harder and harder to fill the gaps. This is a dumb decision.”

This is the second time in 14 months Fairfax staff have walked off the job in response to job cuts. In March 2016 staff went on strike for a weekend after company bosses announced a round of job cuts that saw 120 jobs slashed from the newsroom.

We here at the PEDESTRIAN.TV editorial department stand in solidarity with our colleagues, friends, and contemporary media professionals as they fight for their livelihoods. Thoughts and strength to you, pals.

The striking workforce will reconvene in 72 hours to reassess their action.

Source: ABC News.

Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty.