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Fairfax's Press problems could have been avoided

21 April 2006

Fairfax's Press problems could have been avoided

The union that represents newspaper workers says that The Press newspaper in Christchurch might have avoided the costly and embarrassing loss of papers this week if it had kept on its electricians and engineers.

An electrical problem on the press at the Fairfax-owned newspaper has severely affected production since Wednesday, with no home deliveries today (Friday) and a much diminished product on sale in the city. It is understood that tomorrow's paper will be printed by other newspapers around the South Island.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that the company had laid off its in-house maintenance trades workers, despite warnings from the union that it could lead to trouble.

"Maintaining and running a modern newspaper press is a highly technical, highly specialised job," he said.

"The company might have thought it a waste of money to have an engineer and an electrician on duty every night, but they are worth their weight in gold when something goes wrong."

Mr Little said that he understood that the company that now contracts to do the electrical work had recently advised Press managers to replace some electrical components, but the advice had been rejected as too expensive.

Mr Little said that he would write to Fairfax chief executive David Kirk to ask what the consequences of such poor decision-making would be for local managers.

"Mr Kirk might also wish to explain to local advertisers why their businesses are being interrupted as a result of the local managers' decisions," Mr Little said.


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