Strik­ing work­ers at Hal­i­fax news­pa­per vote over­whelm­ingly in favour of new deal

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

Strik­ing work­ers at Hal­i­fax news­pa­per vote over­whelm­ingly in favour of new deal.

A labour dis­pute at Canada’s largest in­de­pen­dently owned daily news­pa­per ended Thurs­day af­ter strik­ing work­ers voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of a new con­tract.

News­room em­ploy­ees at the Hal­i­fax Chron­i­cle Herald voted 94 per cent in favour of the new eight-year deal, which union pres­i­dent In­grid Bul­mer de­scribed as a “re­lief’’ for mem­bers who have spent 18 months on the picket line.

“It’s been a long haul,’’ the head of the Hal­i­fax Ty­po­graph­i­cal Union, a lo­cal of CWA Canada, said af­ter Thurs­day’s vote. “Most peo­ple are just re­lieved to have this chap­ter closed.’’

Of the roughly 60 re­porters, pho­tog­ra­phers, ed­i­tors and sup­port staff that walked off the job in Jan­uary 2016, 25 will re­turn to work next week, 26 are laid off, one will work out of the Herald’s newly-ac­quired Cape Bre­ton Post news­pa­per and the rest quit dur­ing the pro­tracted strike.

Chron­i­cle Herald pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Lever said the com­pany was pleased the union ac­cepted the of­fer.

“We want to wel­come our award-win­ning team of al­most 30 jour­nal­ists back to the news­room,’’ he said in a state­ment. “They will be work­ing along­side a team of cor­re­spon­dents lo­cated across the province to de­liver the lo­cal cov­er­age, per­spec­tive and in­sights Nova Sco­tians want and need.’’

Lever also thanked for­mer news­room em­ploy­ees who are not re­turn­ing for their con­tri­bu­tions to the pa­per.

In April, the Hal­i­fax me­dia com­pany bought all of Transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia’s news­pa­pers in At­lantic Canada and formed a new busi­ness con­cern, SaltWire Net­work, com­pris­ing 27 Transcon­ti­nen­tal news­pa­pers, the no­vanews­ web­site and the Herald’s own publi­ca­tions.

The 18-month strike was

“We want to wel­come our award-win­ning team of al­most 30 jour­nal­ists back to the news­room,’’ Chron­i­cle Herald pres­i­dent and CEO Mark Lever

punc­tu­ated by lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions and stalled talks un­til the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment stepped in last month and called an in­dus­trial in­quiry com­mis­sion.

The province ap­pointed labour lawyer and vet­eran me­di­a­tor Wil­liam Ka­plan as commissioner, who helped the com­pany and the union ham­mer out a draft deal Satur­day af­ter two days of talks.

The agree­ment rat­i­fied by union mem­bers in­cludes pen­sion changes, wage roll-backs, longer work days and re­duced sev­er­ance, sick leave and va­ca­tion en­ti­tle­ments go­ing for­ward.

Though the union main­tained a se­nior­ity clause on fu­ture lay­offs and ju­ris­dic­tion over con­tent pro­duc­tion — ma­jor stick­ing points that pro­vide work­ers with greater job se­cu­rity — re­porters and pho­tog­ra­phers will now be­come multi-me­dia jour­nal­ists re­spon­si­ble for both tasks.

The com­pany can now use non-union staff for page pro­duc­tion, or out­source the design and lay­out of pages, while web du­ties will be shared be­tween union and non-union em­ploy­ees.

“There is no real sense of any­body be­ing able to claim it was a win-win af­ter such a long time,’’ said Bul­mer, who said she is part of the group be­ing laid off.

“The dam­age that was done to the Herald, and the amount of time and ef­fort put into the strike, the ef­fect it has had on mem­bers and their fam­i­lies fi­nan­cially and men­tally ... there was sim­ply a sense of re­lief that we can all move on with our lives, one way or an­other, whether you are go­ing back or get­ting sev­ered.’’

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