Pro-Beijing news website HK01 has announced that around 70 employees – about nine per cent of its staff – will be laid off.

In an internal notice to staff, the company said those dismissed would be given compensation in accordance with labour laws.

HK01 website. Photo: Screenshot.

The affected staff were mainly from the news outlet’s online content teams and back office.

According to the notice, the aim of the exercise was to restructure the company and human resources to improve efficiency and speed up the development of the company, under a competitive and fast-changing environment.

“During the development of the company, we will need to constantly improve the competitiveness and execution of the team, and our knowledge of company development,” it read.

The internal note on the layoff.

But the notice also said it will continue to train staff members and attract talented employees, and new office floors will open this month.

A current employee in HK01’s local news department, who requested anonymity, told HKFP that they felt many were made redundant because their team mission was not clear in the first place.

“[T]he products are not well defined in a way where employees could be effective. I am not sure what many of these people were supposed to be doing as they were hired… I am disappointed that the company management haven’t done more to reassure those who still remain, such as having team managers call group meetings to address our questions, instead of just announcing the news by a mass email.”

Vacancies at HK01, launched in January 2016 with a weekly print edition, can still be seen on jobs websites, with the latest one posted on Thursday. But the vacancies are for non-editorial staff such as senior event executive, accountant and engineers.

Media layoffs

Staff dismissed by HK01 will be looking for new jobs at a bad time, amid a spate of stories about other media organisations undertaking, planning or denying rumours of staff reductions.

Storyful, a social media intelligence firm owned by NewsCorp, closed its Hong Kong office last month, laying off six editorial members.

In the US, Buzzfeed said last month that it will cut 15 per cent of its 1,450 staff members to reduce costs and “focus on the content that is working.”

Boxes for laid off staff members to pack.

Vice Media announced earlier in February that it will let around 250 people go, or around ten per cent of its workforce, in a company “restructuring.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong broadcaster i-Cable last month denied reports it would be laying off 50 staff members. i-Cable Chief Operating Officer Irene Leung told staff members at a meeting that the company’s priority was to increase its revenue and cut costs, but she could not promise that there would be no redundancies.

HKFP has approached HK01 for comment.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.