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Halifax Herald pulls out of contract talks with newsroom staff

by Robert Devet

While a tentative agreement was in the works  earlier this year many Haligonians showed their support for the locked out Herald workers during a solidarity rally held in front of the Herald Building on Joe Howe Avenue. Photo Tony Tracy, facebook
While a tentative agreement was in the works earlier this year many Haligonians showed their support for the locked out Herald workers during a solidarity rally held in front of the Herald Building on Joe Howe Avenue. Photo Tony Tracy, facebook

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - After a mere three and a half day of face to face bargaining the Halifax Herald Ltd. pulled out of talks with its newsroom staff.

The employer has filed a letter with the minister of Labour asking for the appointment of a conciliator. 63 unionized reporters, photographers, editorial writers, editors, columnists, page technicians, library and support staff in Halifax and bureaus across the province are affected.

“The company is asking for some pretty massive concessions. The ability to contract out, changes in severance language, and they told us at the start of the talks that they plan to lay off staff,” Ingrid Bulmer, president of Local 30130, Halifax Typographical Union, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

In separate discussions management is pushing for a freeze of the defined benefit pension plan that covers all 315 workers at the Herald, Bulmer says.

“So far we were only dealing with non-monetary issues but the employer decided to call off the discussions,” says Bulmer.

In February of this year Herald management locked out 13 pressroom workers who opposed a wage freeze and the elimination of job security language.

And after a bitter labour dispute in November of 2014 Herald management forced “voluntary”early retirements or buy-out packages upon 13 newsroom staff.

Quality of news provision will once again be affected if management gets its way, Bulmer fears.

“The company is already trying to get custom (paid for) content in there, and that's not news, but that seems to be the direction the company wants to go in,” says Bulmer.

“We knew going in that we were bound for a tough round of bargaining,” says Bulmer. “But at the same time we can't allow the company to gut our collective agreement. It's not an option for us.”

Click here for previous coverage of Chronicle Herald labour issues

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert


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