Hobart upgrade spells death in Burnie

While News Limited upgrades its Tasmanian print capacity, it is expected that presses at Fairfax Media’s Burnie print site will be looking for a new home following the reported relocation of production to Launceston.

And that’s not to mention staff, the jobs of 30 permanent and 20-30 casuals being affected, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.

The Goss-equipped Launceston print site of 'The Examiner' newspaper will shortly lose work it has previously been undertaking for News's Hobart 'Mercury'.

The decision realises the worst fears of staff and the union, which asked for assurances about job cuts in 2003 at the time of the hostile takeover of Harris and Company by Rural Press.

The AMWU says workers are being encouraged to apply for jobs elsewhere, but most will have to move or commute daily to stay in the industry. Union organiser Donna Sargent says only two other shops (in the state) have similar machinery. She says the union had just secured an extension to their collective agreement at the company, so the announcement was a surprise.

“The workers are just shell shocked at the moment. There’s been a rumour for a number of years that the print section of the Advocate would be sent to Launceston and the company maintained that this would not eventuate, but they’ve finally gone and done it,” she says.

The Harris Print Centre was built as a showcase production site prior to the Rural takeover. Equipment includes a MAN Roland Uniset 60 press – similar in style to those at Fairfax sites in North Richmond and Bersefield (NSW), Ballarat (Vic) and Mandurah (WA) – as well as a Müller Martini mailroom.

The site was a regular contender for mainland print contracts (the first solus edition of GXpress having been printed there) and handled a range of commercial work. Facilities include infrared drying to enhance print quality.

One expected consequence of the installation of a new KBA Comet pressline in Hobart will be the loss of substantial contract work previously printed by Fairfax at Launceston.
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