CWA Canada says it will ensure that collective agreements and workers rights are respected as SaltWire Network announces plans to temporarily lay off 250 staff amid the COVID-19 crisis.
SaltWire, which publishes five daily and about 20 weekly newspapers in Atlantic Canada, said 40 per cent of staff will be laid off for 12 weeks starting tomorrow. The remainder will have their hours of work cut.
The union is waiting for more details and will ensure that the company follows the layoff provisions of the collective agreements, said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon.
“We understand how serious the situation is and we want to work constructively with the company to get through this crisis, but we must ensure that workers are treated fairly,” O’Hanlon said.
“We are also pushing SaltWire to do something for sales staff who are on 100-per-cent commission and are making very little money now as sales plummet.”
The Halifax Typographical Union (CWA Canada Local 30130) represents workers at The Chronicle Herald, and the Sydney Typographical Union (CWA Canada Local 30460) represents workers at The Cape Breton Post.
Alberta Newspapers Group has cut hours for staff at the Medicine Hat News and the union is seeking more detail from management there.
Workers at the News and the Red Deer Advocate, owned by Black Press, are represented by the Media & Communications Workers of Alberta (CWA Canada Local 30400).
Meanwhile, the Postmedia chain says its newspapers are an essential service and will remain open.
The company is observing health protocols and there is no word yet from the union’s Locals across the country on any layoffs or reduced operations.
Many of the Postmedia newspapers at which CWA Canada represents staff, including The Ottawa Citizen and The Gazette in Montreal, have arranged for employees to work from home.
The New Brunswick Media Guild (CWA Canada Local 30664), which represents workers at The Daily Gleaner in Fredericton and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, reports that many staff are working from home. There has been no word of any planned cuts by Brunswick News.
The CBC and The Canadian Press, whose staff are represented by the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada Local 30213), are following health protocols. As of now, no cuts are planned, other than CBC cancelling local English TV news, to which the CMG has objected and urged the public broadcaster to reconsider.