Ballarat newspaper plant to close, more to come

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Regional newspaper plants around the nation are facing closure as the big three publishers discuss print sharing, and instigate their own closures, with the ACM Ballarat site the latest to get the bad news.  

Printing changes: newspapers

Confidential discussions between the big three – News, Nine and ACM – are looking at ways to cut print costs, with plant sharing the number one topic on the agenda.

Nine and News already share some printing in Queensland, and ACM prints some of the Nine and News work, particularly at the former Fairfax/Rural Press plant in Richmond, NSW.

The Ballarat print site of Australian Community Media is the latest to plant to close, its 120 staff among 200 ACM printers receiving a letter on Wednesday to tell them their jobs are going.

Ballarat was not on the original ACM hitlist, it has replaced Tamworth, which stays open, for now. ACM is also looking at the potential closure of sites in Albury Wodonga, Canberra and Murray Bridge. Among its work Ballarat prints The Age for Nine, industry insiders believe that printing will transfer to the new News site at Truganina, on the outskirts of Melbourne, when it opens.

ACM owner Antony Catalano previously closed down printing and outsourced when he bought a stable of 32 magazines for Metro Media prior to buying the ACM portfolio from Nine last year. He acquired nine print sites as part of the Nine deal, with one already closed.

The closures are leaving the union fuming, Lorraine Cassin, AMWU National Assistant Secretary (Print and Packaging) speaking on the Ballarat closure said, “Today’s announcement will be really hard on a lot of workers already feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s an incredibly scary time to lose a job.

“From the outset, ACM has used this crisis to their own advantage, immediately standing down workers and keeping them in limbo by initially refusing to confirm the company would apply for the JobKeeper scheme.

“We believe this is another disingenuous attempt to use the current situation as a cost cutting measure at the expense of workers and their local communities.”

Meanwhile, News Corp is about to decide which of its Gold Coast and Brisbane sites will close, leaving the one that stays open as the newspaper printing plant for Queensland.

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