HALIFAX – The union that represents staff at the Chronicle Herald has filed a complaint with Nova Scotia’s labour minister accusing the newspaper company of failing to bargain in good faith.
The Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), a local of CWA Canada, is asking Labour Minister Kelly Regan to refer the complaint to the Nova Scotia Labour Board for determination.
The complaint alleges the company is in violation of Section 35 of the Trade Union Act in that “the employer has bargained to impasse and is threatening to lock out employees to try to force acceptance by the union of an improper and unlawful collective bargaining proposal.”
The union has been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement for 13 press operators and industrial mechanics in the pressroom.
The union has put forward very modest proposals and noted that its position is flexible. In contrast, the company has demanded concessions and a four-year wage freeze. This follows the elimination of 17 jobs in the newsroom last fall.
At the core of the union’s complaint is a demand by the company to renege on a binding commitment made in 2007 that its obligation to provide early retirement to eligible long-term employees employed at that time “will continue to apply following this contract and all future contracts.”
“The Chronicle Herald made a clear promise to its veteran employees and now it’s trying to break that promise,” said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon.
“These employees earned their retirement entitlement over many years. Now, when they will soon be in a position to take it, the company is trying to pull it away. We believe people – and companies – should keep their word.”
The union and the company are scheduled to meet in mediation on Feb 18. On Feb. 21, the sides will be in a legal lockout/strike position.
HTU President Ingrid Bulmer noted the pressmen “have absolutely no intention of striking because it will be bad for the newspaper as it tries to move forward.”
O’Hanlon said it would be grossly irresponsible of the company to lock out employees and hurt its brand at a time when it claims to be struggling to maintain revenue.
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