October 16, 2006
More industrial action at Southland Times
Wage talks between the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the Fairfax-owned Southland Times have again broken down with union members employed by the company resuming industrial action last Thursday.
Staff at the paper had been working to rule and taking lightening strikes since early July but put that action on hold last month while further talks were held.
EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little says the fact industrial action has gone on so long is a sign of wider industry difficulties.
“Workers in the newspaper industry took a big hit under the Employment Contracts Act with many of them losing their collective agreements altogether, and now with the industry dominated by two major Australian players even small gains have to be fought for.”
Southland Times staff have been particularly badly affected. They have some of the worst pay rates and conditions in the industry – a situation the recent talks failed to remedy.
Little says Fairfax should think about where its profit comes from. “The Southland Times makes it money out of the community’s news, the community’s readers and the community’s advertisers. To then refuse to return some of that money back into Southland’s community in the form of fair wages smacks of greed and arrogance.”
Senior EPMU Delegate and Southland Times Journalist David Cosgriff says renewed industrial action will again reduce the quality and content on the paper, but staff have no other way to get their point across.
“We continue to be bitterly disappointed at the company's attitude to these negotiations. Staff feel insulted and under-valued.
“This is a company that produces one of the country's best performing newspapers, a company that this year alone has increased its advertising rates and its cover prices by about 12 percent, yet begrudges even giving its staff a wage increase that keeps up with inflation.”
Fairfax paid $700 million for internet auction site Trade Me earlier this year after announcing a 23 percent increase in its annual profits.