CWA Canada members in Ottawa and Montreal could be on picket lines as early as Monday if Postmedia locks out workers in the nation’s capital. A lockout at the Ottawa Citizen and Sun would trigger an immediate strike at The Gazette in Montreal.
A Postmedia official told the 63 members of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild (Local 30205), who are to begin voting Sunday, they would be locked out at 12:01 a.m. Monday if they reject the company’s “final” contract offer.
Lois Kirkup, ONG vice-president, said the vote had been scheduled to take place Sept. 9-12, to allow more members to participate. The union has asked the company to extend its lockout deadline.
“None of my members want a labour dispute, but what we do want is a fair contract,” said Kirkup (who is also Vice-President of CWA Canada).
The Montreal Newspaper Guild (Local 30111), which is also in a legal strike-lockout position and had forged a common front with fellow members in Ottawa, “will declare a strike in response to a lockout as we can expect the same treatment,” said President Ron Carroll.
“Postmedia cries poor despite paying millions in bonuses to their top executives. Not to mention the company owned by billionaire hedge fund managers is profitable to the point where every Postmedia newspaper is in the black,” said Carroll.
He added that his 58 members and their counterparts in Ottawa “will not fold in the face of unacceptable concessions or by a threat of a lockout if we do not roll over to their demands.”
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said Postmedia is clearly trying to scare people into voting for a bad contract.
“After telling us for months that they had no intention of locking us out, suddenly on the eve of the vote they come out with this threat,” O’Hanlon said.
“I guess these kinds of tactics should come as no surprise from a character like Paul Godfrey.”
“This is a man who has no shame taking a huge pay raise of over 30 per cent while forcing his employees to accept big cuts to their health benefits and a continuing wage freeze that has already lasted six years.”
The ONG bargaining committee decided earlier this summer, after more than two years of meetings, to bring Postmedia’s “insulting” offer to the membership “in order to send a message to this company how unacceptable it is.”
“Despite the Guild agreeing to changes that will save Postmedia millions of dollars, the company is still not satisfied and is coming at you for more concessions, particularly with health benefits and sick leave” that would cost members thousands of dollars, said the ONG.