Talks break down as Chronicle Herald bosses tender offer worse than proposed four months ago

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Bosses at the Canada's largest independent newspaper are proposing more staff cuts and salary reductions than those that led to a newsroom strike four months ago, the Halifax Typographical Union says.

The union (HTU), which represents 57 editorial staff currently on strike, announced this afternoon a week of negotiations with management at the Halifax Chronicle Herald had ended unsuccessfully. 

David Wilson, lead negotiator for the HTU -- local 30130 of the Communciations Workers of America-Canada -- labeled the paper's position as "unworkable and insulting."

"The employer says it needs to get the concessions that our union has given at other newspapers across the country." Those concessions do not exist, Wilson said.

The company has tabled changes that will result in nearly half of HTU's members being laid off, and an hourly pay rate reduction of 20 per cent.

The offer proposed by management in January involved reducing newsroom staff by about one-third.

It also proposed an immediate five per cent wage cut for all staff and a two-year wage freeze, the HTU said.

The HTU also said management want to move the work of 18 senior editors outside the union, resulting in an annual salary reduction of between $20,000 and $40,000.

Most editors in the HTU have more than 25 years of service with the Chronicle Herald.

There would also be no guarantee of continued employment for those senior editor positions no longer in the union. 

 "We presented a concessionary offer to the employer last week that should have piqued the employer's interest," Wilson said.

"It had concessions we never anticipated we'd give, and yet it was still rejected."

Since the strike, which began on January 23, the HTU has set up its own online news outlet Local Xpress.

It has also urged readers to boycott the Chronicle Herald, and requested businesses refrain from advertising with the paper -- which has brought in replacement workers to continue publication.

Prior to this round of negotiations, there had been no communication between the HTU and the Chronicle Herald management since a few days into the strike.


Teuila Fuatai is a recent transplant to Canada from Auckland, New Zealand. She settled in Toronto in September following a five-month travel stint around the United States. In New Zealand, she worked as a general news reporter for the New Zealand Herald and APNZ News Service for four years after studying accounting, communication and politics at the University of Otago. As a student, she had her own radio show on the local university station and wrote for the student magazine. She is rabble's labour beat reporter this year.

Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster

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