Fairfax Media Ltd says it plans to axe another 100 jobs in New Zealand, as part of a trans-Tasman cost cutting programme.
The Australian-based company said it was cutting 550 jobs across the group’s publishing and printing businesses in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand chief executive Joan Withers said 160 of those jobs were on the NZ side of the Tasman, but some have already gone through “attrition” or through rationalisation already under way in centralising some sub-editing at newspapers.

“We’ve got a number that have already left the business through natural attrition, and we announced a couple of months ago a project to centralise some of our sub-editing,” Withers said.

Another 100 staff would leave the business in the coming months,” Withers said.

Divisional general managers would take responsibility for deciding where people would go from their sections of the business.

“We’ll be finalising that process over the next couple of months”.

In Australia, Fairfax Media Ltd chief executive David Kirk told analysts 30 per cent of the 550 jobs are in the editorial business, and that 20 per cent of the total editorial cuts would be in New Zealand, a calculation equivalent to 36 jobs.

The remainder will be spread across the business — printing, management and people across the whole range of its operating business.

“Editorial cuts are mostly in the sub-editing area,” he said.

“In terms of the front-end journalist area there might be some, but main thrust is in the sub-editing.”

Fairfax publishes nine New Zealand daily newspapers, including the Dominion-Post in Wellington and The Press in Christchurch, and in July announced sub-editors at Wellington and Christchurch would produce some sections of the other papers at a centralised “hub”.

Hub editing of the international and business pages of the nine dailies, and the feature pages of The Dominion Post, The Press and Timaru Herald is due to start in October, resulting in about 30 redundancies.

When this was announced, Paul Thompson, group executive editor, said there would be 150 full-time sub-editing positions across the group in future, including 32 at the hub.

Withers said there were no plans to extend the centralised editing to other sections of newspapers.

The new cuts are expect to affect not only the wider editorial sections of Fairfax, but printing, maintenance, paper and fitting staff on both sides of the Tasman. They will be implemented in the first half of the current financial year, which began about seven weeks ago.

Kirk said the cost-cutting would position the company for the next stage of its “growth and development”.

“Media companies fit for the modern media world need to be lean and agile,” he said.

In 2006 and 2007 financial years the company had made $A52 million in real cost reductions, and “synergies” associated with the merger of Fairfax Media and Rural Press and the acquisition of Southern Cross Radio produced a further $A53 million in savings.

The new cuts will have a one-off cost of about $A50 million ($NZ61.98 million) for redundancy and associated costs, but about $A25 million in annual savings.

In Australia, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) federal secretary Chris Warren said the standard redundancy payout formula for editorial staff was four weeks pay for every year of service.

“It’s obviously going to have a serious impact on the ongoing quality of the company’s papers, magazines and websites in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.