Montrealers rally behind union fighting
CanWest's exporting of jobs outside Quebec
Contract talks at an impasse;
online petition a hit with supporters
Montreal Newspaper Guild | CWA Canada
Montrealers are flocking to join
a union battle against CanWest Global's exporting of
jobs from The Gazette to company facilities and call
centres outside of Quebec.
An online petition against CanWest's
job outsourcing that was set up on Wednesday had garnered
almost 2,000 signatures by this afternoon. A byline
strike and work-to-rule campaign begun Oct. 2 is continuing.
Negotiations to renew three collective agreements
are hung up on the issue of the Montreal Newspaper
Guild's jurisdiction over work performed by its members.
Talks involving two bargaining units hit an impasse
on Tuesday when conciliation failed to budge the employer
from its position that would have allowed such outsourcing.
The MNG's 214 members have
been enthusiastic in their support for the bargaining
teams for Advertising, Editorial and Reader Sales & Service,
turning out in droves last week and on Wednesday
for noon-hour information pickets during which thousands
of flyers were handed out to passers-by.
Members in the three bargaining units voted overwhelmingly
on Sept. 28 to give their negotiators a strike mandate.
The two sides have been in a legal strike/lockout position
since early summer. The 181 employees in the three
units have been without a contract since June 1.
On Tuesday, the bargaining
committee accused publisher Alan Allnutt of trying
to divide union ranks by sending out an email message
that suggested the company was close to a deal with
Advertising. "In fact, Advertising,
Editorial and RSS are negotiating together, have common
issues and interests and remain united in our struggle
for fair contracts," says a bulletin from the
committee. "Our negotiators for the Advertising
unit are studying a letter proposing language to clarify
some advertising jurisdiction issues, but are still
waiting for a response from the company to our monetary
David Wilson, the CWA Canada staff representative
who has been leading the bargaining in Montreal, says
Guild members would much prefer to negotiate fair contracts
than engage in a labour dispute. But the company continues
to refuse to put a fair offer on the table.
In its bulletin, the bargaining
committee noted that J.P. Tremblay, the head of Human
Resources at The Gazette, had tabled an offer on
the morning of the second day of conciliation "which,
like previous versions, would gut our jurisdiction
clause and allow the company to outsource our jobs
outside Quebec. He also made it clear the company
intends to execute layoffs with this new language.
"Before we left the room, Mr. Tremblay said of
the company’s position on jurisdiction, 'As far
as I’m concerned, that’s it. It’s
over.' He said several times that there is nothing
more to discuss.
"We don’t consider the same unacceptable
proposal over and over again to be an offer to settle.
Mr. Tremblay is not negotiating. He is attempting to
impose the company’s will."
Guild jurisdiction over work performed by its members
has been a critical issue ever since Gazette management
laid off 45 RSS employees in June and exported their
work to a CanWest call centre in Winnipeg.
The MNG is also grieving the
transfer of other work — layout
of some pages and the Driving section, electronic photo
desk functions, business office duties — to non-unionized
CanWest facilities in Hamilton and Winnipeg. That grievance
is scheduled to go to arbitration in February.
The MNG maintains that contracts
for all three bargaining units "clearly prohibit
the assignment of such work either to employees of
the same employer not covered by our collective agreement
or to employees outside The Gazette."