The Ottawa Newspaper Guild, which represents employees of the Ottawa Citizen took a strike vote on Thursday, its members voting 83% in favour of a strike mandate. This is a bargaining tactic, showing the employer the union is serious and that its members are prepared to walk off the job to get their demands. However, the union has said it has no plans to follow through with a strike so long as productive negotiations are continuing. The Citizen’s contract expired July 20, and the major issue standing in the way of a new one is wages: the employer is offering increases of 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2% and 2% over five years, which represents a pay cut compared to inflation.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Newspaper Guild, which represents employees of the Gazette (including myself), has called a strike vote for Sept. 28. Same deal about this being a bargaining tactic (the sides go back to the table Sept. 30). Negotiations haven’t progressed to the wage discussion stage, but among the contentious issues is an employer demand that removes the distinction between reporter and photographer, which would mean journalists have to perform both functions.