Four Fairfax execs get $2.4m pay hike as staff at two biggest publishers battle for rise

News Corp salary Australia’s two biggest newspaper publishers have drawn the ire of their own staff in recent days as they refuse to match inflation in their salary negotiations.

Today’s Fairfax results revealed the senior executive team of four people had a combined pay rise of $2.4m during the year, including CEO Greg Hywood whose salary package rose $900,000, at a time when newsrooms are facing ongoing job cuts.

In ongoing pay negotiations Fairfax’s first offer to staff saw no automatic pay rises proffered, and a proposal to reduce the amount it pays those who work after 6pm, while at News Corp Australia a staff vote involving more than 1,200 people yesterday on the current enterprise bargaining agreement saw 83 per cent vote against the deal.

News Corp staff campaign for a better offer have placed posters including a fake NT News front page headlined “Staff tell News Corp management IT’S A CROC” and have published the lavish menu from The Australian’s much-hyped 50th anniversary VIP party around the building. 

The union which represents journalists the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said it would continue to push the managements of both publishers on the issue of staff salaries, but took particular aim at Fairfax for today’s executive pay rises, which it said exceeded in cost the current formal offer by the company to the wider editorial staff.

“The salary of the top four executives has risen more than 50 per cent to $6.4m,” said a spokesman. “In other words four people have received a pay rise of $2.4m in one year, that is more than the total value of the pay rise being offered to the entire editorial staff of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth.”

Today’s Fairfax financial year has seen most of the top executive team given 47-54 per cent increases in their remuneration, while Allen Williams, managing director of Australian Publishing Media, was the biggest winner in percentage terms with his salary rising 279 per cent from $315,471 to $1.196m.

It posted a net profit of $224.4m for last financial year based mainly on the divestment of businesses and the performance of real estate site Domain.

Source: ASX

Source: ASX

“Four people have taken a pay rise larger than they are offering to more than 600 people,” said the MEAA representative. “Stopwork meetings will this afternoon again consider the company’s pay offer and options for further industrial action.”

Over at News Corp frustration also appears to be rife with the MEAA publishing a comparison of the The Australian’s 50 anniversary gala dinner menu, featuring meals by high profile chefs Peter Gilmore, Neil Perry and Philippa Sibley, with what it claims is being offered to editorial staff.

The poster claims an entree of “cheaper pay rates for casual staff”, “dramatically increasing the number of public holidays management can force you to take annual leave” and “real terms pay cut below CPI” and urged a no vote in yesterday’s enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) vote.

News Corp It follows other attempts by MEAA members to highlight their pay demands, with one parking a car in front of News Corp’s Holt St headquarters with an open letter to chairman Rupert Murdoch.

A spokesman for the MEAA justified the poster and wider campaign, arguing that as audiences increased the demands on staff were greater and this should be reflect in the pay offer.

“Staff have overwhelmingly rejected the company’s offer as unfair and inadequate,” he said. “Editorial staff are working harder than ever. They are attracting more readers than ever. Management need to come to the table with an offer that recognises this.”

The current offer before News Corp staff in understood to be two per cent for two years which was rejected yesterday with 1,033 no votes and 205 yes votes. According to the union 58 per cent of members at News Corp voted.

In the case of Fairfax Media the formal offer includes no pay rise, but it is understood an informal offer by management includes a similar two per cent rise. However much of that rise would be in a “merit pool” which is handed out by editors.

A recent draft audit report done on the last financial year’s merit pool found wide discrepancies in how the money was handed out, with men far more likely to get the bigger pay rises than their female colleagues.

Across the Australian Financial Review, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Newcastle Herald, Illawarra Mercury and associated titles 121 men received merit payments, whilst 90 women received them.

Male Fairfax staffers averaged $6,824 a payment while women were $1,000 worse off with on average received of $5,835.

Fairfax Media did not respond to a request for comment on the executive pay rises, while a spokesman for News Corp said “the company does not comment on negotiations.”

Nic Christensen 

Update 1.48pm – A spokesman for Fairfax responded to the union criticisms noting the increases were not in take-home pay but rather performance shares.


None of the 4 people designated Key Management Personnel (KMP) in the Remuneration Report released today received any increase in take-home pay this year. In fact none have had a salary increase for at least 2 years. In 2014 all 4 people volunteered to salary sacrifice 10% of their salary post tax to buy Fairfax shares so their take-home pay actually decreased by 10%.. They have agreed to continue the salary sacrifice in 2015.

The second part of the key executives’ total remuneration package is the opportunity to get an allocation of performance shares. These shares are only allocated if targets have been met over the year. Because major improvements in the Company’s performance were achieved in 2014 the 4 key executives were allocated performance shares. These shares are not available for 2 years and certainly are not any part of take-home pay. What these performance share will be worth in 2 years time depends entirely on the company’s share price then.

The third part of the key executives total remuneration package is the issue of options over Fairfax Shares. These have a 3-4 year vesting period and are only worth anything if the Total Shareholder Return target is met at the vesting test date. Again the options have no effect on take-home pay this year.

So – the key executives have all had a decrease in take-home pay this year. They have all earned incentive awards of Fairfax shares and options that may have a value in the future if the company continues to improve in value. These executives have been prepared to accept deceases in take-home pay and back themselves to achieve company growth over the longer term


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.