Leaders of CWA Canada Locals at nine Postmedia dailies have rejected a company proposal for a temporary wage cut, saying they have “sacrificed enough.”
They held a conference call Tuesday night to discuss Postmedia’s request to reduce salaries by five per cent for unionized staff earning $60,000 or more. The 281 media union members cannot be forced to take a pay reduction as it would be a violation of their collective agreements.
Local leaders at Postmedia papers in Montreal, Ottawa, Windsor, Kingston, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Regina, gave several reasons for rejecting a salary reduction:
“Our members have sacrificed enough, with little or no wage increase while the company has funnelled tens of millions of dollars to its hedge fund owner / lenders each year, and millions more to executives,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said.
The company’s owner / lenders, Chatham and Canso, are not cutting interest rates or forgiving any debt. They may agree to defer interest for a few months, but they will get all their money.
“Why should our members give up part of their modest wage when these rich companies don’t sacrifice?” O’Hanlon asked.
“Even after temporarily giving up 30 per cent of his salary, Postmedia CEO Andrew MacLeod will still get $2 million this year, based on his total compensation of $2.5 million last year. Plus, it is entirely possible the company will boost his compensation when things get back to normal, but they wouldn’t do that for unionized staff.”
In addition to the pay-cut proposal, Postmedia said Tuesday it would lay off 50 sales people (no CWA Canada members affected) and permanently close 15 community newspapers in Ontario and Manitoba.
Postmedia is eligible for the 75-per-cent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which is intended to avert layoffs or to push employers to recall workers. It is retroactive to March 15 and provides up to $847 a week per employee.
The company will also be able to access labour tax credits under the $595-million journalism support fund, among other government support programs.
On April 11, Postmedia reported a loss of just over $5 million in its second quarter ending Feb. 29, two weeks before the country headed into lockdown. That was a drop of 7.5 per cent compared with last year. Total revenue for the quarter was $145.7 million, with $110.8 million of that from print advertising and circulation; $28.2 million was derived from its digital businesses.