Thursday, 13 March 2008

Sun Media's side

With several Canadian labour unions launching a cross-Canada tour focused on the 10-month-old Journal de Quebec lockout/strike, Sun Media has decided to tell its side of the story.

This release, with Luc Lavoie, executive vice president of Quebecor Inc., listed as the contact, was posted yesterday on and reads:

"Since Le Journal de Quebec Union, with the full support of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), have decided to embark on a cross-Canadian tour to justify a work stoppage that has been going on for more than 10 months, Sun Media Corporation felt that it is essential to have a full picture of the real situation.

Did you know?

- The employees of Le Journal de Quebec work 32 hours a week on a 4-day basis.

- On average, the employees are present at work 40 weeks per year, but are paid for 52 weeks.

- On average, the annual earnings of the following categories of employees are:

- Desk Editor: over $100,000

- Head Pressman: over $109,000 (25-hour work week instead of 32)

- Photographer: over $86,000

- Reporter: over $83,000

- Pressman: over $76,000 (24-hour work week instead of 32)

- Classified Ads: over $59,000

- There are 4 bargaining units at Le Journal de Quebec. One bargaining unit representing the Sales force has successfully reached a collective agreement and is not on work stoppage.

- 115 members have been on strike since April 22, 2007 (Press, Prepress and Maintenance). The other 137 members are locked out (office and newsroom).

Sun Media Proposal

- Sun Media is not asking for a reduction of the take-home pay of its employees.

- Sun Media feels that employees should work 37 1/2 hours a week on a 5-day basis. Sun Media is also asking its employees to be present at work on average 42 weeks per year out of 52.

- The employees currently on work stoppage are receiving approximately the same net salary that they would if they were working, because the Quebec Labour laws and related tax provisions allow for union compensation to be tax free.

- Sun Media requires the necessary flexibility to be able to use the content produced by the papers on other platforms.

- Sun Media is in the process of making substantial investments in the design and creation of the most modern website for the Journal de Quebec. This investment is a matter of survival for the paper and can only be justified if the content produced by the paper can be made available online.

- Sun Media has decided to follow suit with other news organizations in North America by rationalizing its Call Centre operations. In practical terms, this means that unfortunately some people will have to be laid off. However Sun Media is offering generous packages and relocation opportunities to the employees impacted by this decision.

- The legacy model of newspaper/dedicated printing operations is quickly disappearing. In order to keep the printing facility in operation at Le Journal de Quebec, Sun Media is proposing to make it operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for other commercial products, therefore saving the employment of the Press people. Otherwise, the only choice would be to opt for outsourcing as more and more newspaper organizations in North America are doing. In the present newspaper-industry circumstances maintaining this printing facility can only be justified if the collective agreement allows for commercial printing other than the newspaper itself."

End of press release.

That said, the lockout/strike will mark its 11th month on March 22. There are 252 employees who want to return to work but no talks are scheduled.

If you want Sun Media to be one harmonious and profitable family, it is time to talk and bring an end to this prolonged spat.

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