Manufacturing workers shouldn’t be punished for Fairfax’s bad decisions: union

Australia’s manufacturing union is reeling at Fairfax’s decision to close two of its newspaper printing presses, claiming workers at the site shouldn’t be punished for the media giant’s “bad decisions”.

Fairfax announced this week it will close its Tullamarine, Victoria and Chullora, New South Wales printing presses within two years, putting possibly hundreds of manufacturing and engineering workers out of employment.

"Tullamarine is a 10 year old state of the art plant – and the people who work in it should not be condemned by the bad decisions of a media company through a change of direction,” said Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) national secretary of the AMWU Print Division, Lorraine Cassin.

AMWU says it will take Fairfax to Fair Work Australia to seek an explanation as to the size and nature of job losses, and why the company tried to “hide the decision from workers”.

"We've had no warning, consultation or opportunity to discuss the widespread changes that will affect the lives of many workers,” said Cassin, of the major structural changes Fairfax announced via the ASX on Monday.

"The workers have not been consulted, despite extensive 'consultation clauses' in their EBA.

"Our responsibility is to work with the people whose lives have been affected by this decision.

"The company has a clear obligation to the workers who've stuck it out with them – and treat them with respect.”

Fairfax currently prints The Age newspaper at the Tullamarine site. According to a Fairfax website, the factory is “one of the most modern, technologically advanced printing plants in Australia”.

Fairfax blames the decline of print newspaper sales and decreasing advertising revenue for its decision to cut hundreds of editorial staff from its books and to consolidate its printing operations.

The Australian is claiming 400 jobs will be lost from the printing arm of the business, and reported this morning that printing workers at the Tullamarine plant have been gathering outside the manufacturing site, threatening to go on strike if they do not get some answers.

The AMWU says Fairfax is in breach of its enterprise agreement with the union.

[Image: The Australian.]