It’s a case of terrible timing for Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood, whose recent share bonus worth around $2.5 million has coincided with a move to slash 125 editorial jobs.
That was before the company’s management announced it planned to cut a quarter of all newsroom jobs via voluntary redundancies, prompting a strike.
Staff at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age walked off the job on Wednesday in protest at the news – industrial action illegal under the Fair Work Act.
Despite the skirmish, Fairfax’s share price was trading at around $1 through Wednesday afternoon. If the price held into 2019, Mr Hywood will have boosted the value of his holdings by more than $2.5 million.
He earned total remuneration, including shares and superannuation, of $2.7 million in 2015-16, up from $2.5 million the year before.
Back then, he had already acquired 694,286 shares.
Several current and former Fairfax journalists, including Jill Stark and Jenny Noyes, pointed out the sharp contradiction.
Will Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood hand back his $2.5 million bonus? Or will preserving quality journalism just mean sacking quality journalists?
— Jill Stark (@jillastark) May 3, 2017
Fun fact: #FairGoFairfax CEO Greg Hywood's March ~bonus~ was $2.5 million
— Jenny Noyes (@jennynoise) May 3, 2017
Greg Hywood might actually come close to earning his shamelessly exorbitant salary over the next week compiling the papers.
— Jason Whittaker (@thetowncrier) May 3, 2017
Fairfax journalists, except those at the Australian Financial Review, said they plan to strike for seven days, which includes the federal budget on May 9.
Voluntary redundancies will be offered at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today, with a deadline of Tuesday for expressions of interest and May 12 for a final decision.
“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,” the company said in an internal note.
Fairfax said it hoped to cut costs by $30 million as a result – this coming a year after it cut 120 jobs.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) slammed the move, saying it was “appalled” and “disgusted”.
“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,” MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said.
“The editorial staff are really angry. They think the company has made a terrible decision that is not in the best interests of the company, its audience or its staff.”