Talks between Herald, striking staff break down

HALIFAX — Talks between 55 on-strike Chronicle Herald newsroom workers and the company broke down on Thursday over seniority, jurisdiction and a handful of other issues.

The company said it would not continue to bargain on individual issues, telling the union bargaining team it had to accept the company’s latest package offer.

The company refuses to do layoffs by seniority, a key union demand, even though it has said it will lay off nearly half the newsroom staff.

Jurisdiction is another important issue in the year-old work stoppage. The union withdrew an unfair labour practice complaint late last month when The Chronicle Herald agreed to withdraw its illegal contract proposal during a meeting between both sides and a representative of the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

“The breakdown in talks is frustrating,” said HTU President Ingrid Bulmer.

“In the year since this strike began, we’ve only met face-to-face for about eight days. And six of those were in the last two weeks.

“This company needs to stay at the table and negotiate.”

The union was prepared to discuss outstanding issues, but the company was pushing a package deal that had a lot of objectionable language, she said.

The union has agreed to a longer work week, a five-per-cent across-the-board wage cut, a freeze to the DB pension plan, lower salaries for new hires, a cut in days off/vacation, lower mileage rates and other concessions.

The Herald has said it will lay off 26 of the 55 reporters, editors, columnists and editorial writers, photographers, page technicians, library and support staff on strike.

The union struck the Herald on Jan. 23, 2016, when the company imposed a regressive contract on its staffers, many with more than 25 years of service.

Since the strike began, HTU’s parent union, CWA Canada, has successfully reached deals with five other Canadian newspapers, including the Cape Breton Post, the Moncton Times & Transcript and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.

All the contracts involved wage increases. There were no concessions, said CWA staff representative David Wilson.

“After over a year on strike, this employer needs to sit down and get serious about concluding a deal,” Wilson said.

For information, please contact:
Ingrid Bulmer, president, Halifax Typographical Union, 902-210-3465
Frank Campbell, HTU vice-president, 902-883-9048
David Wilson, CWA Canada staff rep, 613-850-5423