Wednesday, 5 September 2007

175 Freep jobs saved

Quebecor has decided not to print the London Free Press at its new plant in Toronto - saving 175 Sun Media jobs, says Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87-M.

"CEP Local 87-M (SONG) is elated to learn that Quebecor/Sun Media today rescinded its (July 20) layoff notices . . . because of a decision to keep printing the Free Press in its existing building," Brad told TSF.

"That means about 175 people, many of whom had spent much of their working life at the London Free Press, will continue to hold good jobs," says Brad.

Brad said layoff notices had been formerly issued July 20 to the press room, distribution centre and building maintenance staff.

"The company has informed the union that it wishes to enter discussions to establish conditions that will allow a more viable business in London. We will learn more about what this means in the weeks to come."

Susan Muszak, Free Press publisher and CEO, announced the reversal in today's edition.

"Two years ago, a decision was made to move the press and distribution centre to a new printing plant in Islington near Toronto," she said. "Although operations at Wide Web Printing have already begun, the Free Press has been given the green light to submit a business case to keep printing and distribution work and the jobs here.

"We will start discussions with the union soon to establish conditions to allow us to have a viable long-term business solution.

"This is great news for our employees, for the Free Press and for the community. As you know, we have a 158-year history in London and we remain committed to this wonderful city and its bright future."

Plans to print the Toronto Sun at the new plant, beginning at the end of September, continue.

Critics of the proposed transfer of Free Press printing from London to Toronto said winter weather and Hwy. 401 congestion could wreak havoc with deliveries.

Whatever the reason for the reversal, 175 Free Press workers are applauding the decision.

Not that two years of anticipating job losses didn't take its toll.

"Regarding London, it should be said that, while it's great to have the jobs back, the employees there have been through a very difficult time these last two years thinking that they would lose the jobs and friends they have held for decades in some cases," Brad told TSF.

"Some sold their homes, anticipating closure and a buyout at the end of September. Some made large purchases. Their world was turned upside down and then back over again.

"I have tried to figure out what changed for Quebecor between July 20 when they issued the layoff notice and the end of August when they decided to rescind it and the only thing I can think of is the purchase of Osprey, which includes several papers in southwestern Ontario, relatively close to London.

"I'll leave it at that."

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