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Chronicle Herald union offers major concessions to save newsroom staff

Concerns about paper's future remain, union says

by Robert Devet

The mood was grim earlier this month when newsroom reporters and their supporters briefly gathered outside the Herald building on Dutch Village Road to protest an announced layoff of newsroom staff. Photo Robert Devet
The mood was grim earlier this month when newsroom reporters and their supporters briefly gathered outside the Herald building on Dutch Village Road to protest an announced layoff of newsroom staff. Photo Robert Devet

(K'JIPUKTUK), HALIFAX - 13 unionized Chronicle Herald staff will soon walk away from the Herald newsroom with either early retirement or buy-out packages. Two unionized newsroom workers will be laid off.

That is, if the membership accepts a series of concessions negotiated between union representatives and management of the Halifax Herald Ltd. A vote is scheduled for this Saturday.

In late October, management issued layoff notices to 20 unionized newsroom staff.

Yesterday Mark Lever, president and CEO of the Herald, told Rick Howe of News 95.7 that all affected staff are leaving on a voluntary basis.

Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union, takes strong issue with that statement.

“The people who are leaving felt that they had no choice. They felt that they would be saving (other people's) jobs by taking the early retirements,” Bulmer tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “

The two people who are being targeted for layoff may be reconciled to the idea, but again, they would still be here if it hadn't been for the company's intention to shrink the newsroom, Bulmer argues.

Bulmer adds that Lever's announcement was premature, because the agreement has not yet been ratified.

The union membership will vote on a proposal that includes concessions on mileage rates, pension contributions and a wage freeze, says Bulmer. She doesn't want to speculate on the outcome of the vote.

“It is a really hard place to be in at this time,” Bulmer says. “It is not about saving jobs anymore, we're trying to save journalism. Management is picking off newsroom staff, and we do not see the necessary investments.”

Many award-winning reporters and photographers are among the staff leaving.

Bulmer is pleased with the support that the union received from Herald readers during the negotiations, much of it on-line. She wants supporters to continue to tell management that the newsroom staff reductions are unacceptable.

And she is worried that the company may be considering outsourcing some of its technical processes, maybe as early as next year.

 

The Halifax Typographical Union asks that Herald's readers continue to pass on their concerns to its management team: Sarah Dennis, publisher: sdennis@herald.ca, Mark Lever, president and CEO: mlever@herald.ca, and Ian Thompson, associate publisher: ithompson@herald.ca

 

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 


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