Quebecor put a final offer on the table on Thursday, adding that if the workers refused, the paper would be shut down at the end of the month. (Coverage from Radio-Canada, Rue Frontenac, Projet J.) The final offer would result in the layoff of 20 of the paper’s 25 unionized employees, leaving only three journalists and two office workers. The rest would get severance of two weeks’ salary for every year of service, up to a maximum 42 weeks (14 of the 20 will max out, the rest will receive less).
You know how the Journal always has little boxes pointing you to Canoe.ca? For Richard Martineau’s blog, or photo galleries, forums, or various other Quebecor cross-platform stuff? A grievance from the union that dates from before the lockout (in fact, dates so far back it mentions Canoe blogs from Patrick Lagacé and Dominic Arpin that no longer exist) has finally been decided on. The ruling from arbitrator Diane Sabourin (PDF) says that these promos in editorial space were promotional material, which violates the collective agreement’s clauses preventing the mixing of advertising and editorial content.
This case is actually somewhat complicated because of the Journal’s union contract. The contract prevents the Journal from setting up a website without union approval, so instead Journal stories have been published on canoe.ca. The Journal has been pushing the limits of this ability by pointing to columnists’ blogs and other material on Canoe. Here, it was determined that the employer crossed the line. Either the contract will have to be changed or such promotions will have to be done in advertising space.
The STIJM, the union representing Journal de Montréal workers, was busy this week. First they crashed a lecture given by freelance columnist Joseph Facal, accusing the former PQ minister of being a scab in no uncertain terms (especially because he’s now writing two columns a week instead of one). Shockingly, Rue Frontenac was there, admitting that students were not amused, but mitigating that by saying some were on Facebook or browsing other uneducational websites.
Despite how much Journal de Montréal salaries are bringing Quebecor down, the company still seems to have enough leftover money to spare in this economy to buy the Canadiens.
Metro could only find two articles out of eight in the Journal on Saturday that mentioned the Journal in a self-congratulatory we-got-the-scoop way. La Presse beat it out by a huge margin. That’s unfortunate.
The STIJM makes a case for the support of freelance journalists with the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec. Though it admits that fighting for freelancers isn’t its primary mission, it says it tried to get some union protection for freelancers at the Journal and has opposed onerous contracts that demand excessive rights waivers.
It’s very unlikely such a move is going to make any difference, for the simple reason that people who care about the state of the news industry don’t read the free papers, and the vast majority who don’t care about media convergence won’t give this a second thought and will go on reading the newspapers boycott or no. You can’t threaten to cancel your subscription to 24 Heures.
Meanwhile, at the Journal, there’s little going on. Le Devoir had a piece from Paul Cauchon on Monday summarizing the stalemate, and focusing on all the anti-Quebecor articles that have appeared on RueFrontenac.com now that journalists have the freedom to say what they really think about their corporate overlords.
Céline Galipeau and Sophie Thibault, whose names I just notice rhyme, found each other together at the nomination press conference for the Artis, and made out with each other had a little photo op. Rue Frontenac takes the time to point out that Céline refused an interview with the Journal de Montréal.
Two days after its union unanimously rejected a contract offer that would have meant massive layoffs and outsourcing of layout and administrative jobs to Montreal, Quebecor locked out employees of Jonquière weekly Le Réveilthis morning, putting them in the same boat as their colleagues at the Journal de Montréal (though with considerably less news coverage). Counting employees of the paper’s printing plant who were laid off when the plant was closed recently, the union says Quebecor wants to reduce the number of unionized employees from 80 to only five.
The union, naturally, is outraged and sees this as part of a trend of lockouts and union-busting that also involved the Journal de Québec and Journal de Montréal.
I haven’t seen anything from Quebecor yet explaining their reasons (though they’ll probably sound familiar). The latest issue of the paper is from Sunday, and contains plenty of ads for Quebecor, including one with its financial statements:
Notice something missing?
Funny enough, that ad lists Quebecor Media’s assets, including four Montreal-based newspapers, but neglects to mention Le Réveil, the very paper this ad appears in.