253 employees locked out at Montreal daily

A labour dispute rages on at Montreal’s French-language daily Le Journal de Montreal, as more than 250 employees were locked out on the weekend.

The paper’s owner, Quebecor Media, locked out 253 editorial and office staffers on Jan. 24. The dispute is over potential layoffs, an increase in working hours (without a pay boost) and decreases in vacation time and benefits.

Union president Raynold Leblanc told the Canadian Press:

“We’re not in agreement over the convergence within Quebecor. We don’t want to find ourselves at Le Journal de Montreal online with all the other Quebecor products, both to protect the profession and to protect our jobs as well…

What they say they want to do is bring into both the print and the web edition things taken from TVA, articles from (free daily) 24 Heures or (weekly magazine) 7 Jours.

Ultimately, we could find ourselves with CD reviews from the Archambault (music store) website or stories about celebrities who star in Quebecor-produced content. Quebecor has tentacles everywhere. I’m not saying it will happen, but that it could happen. They want to use the branding of Le Journal to sell other things.”

Isabelle Dessureault, vice-president of public affairs for Quebecor Media said:

“The world is really about sharing content, information, and links. Le Journal de Montreal is part of an organization with 300 publications. We think that there are definite benefits for the readers to get this information. We never said we wanted to diminish the quality of our publication.”

According to various media reports, photographers and journalists at the paper make an average salary of
$88,000 for a 30-hour week. Editors make an annual average salary of
$125,000. Employees are entitled to four to six weeks of annual
vacation paid at time-and-a-half.

The locked out workers have launched their own website, called Rue Frontenac. Management has said they will continue to publish during the lcok-out.

Another Quebecor publication, Le Journal de Québec, went through a 15-month lock-out that ended last year. Former employees of Le Journal de Québeclater started a rival publication,MediaMatinQuébec.

Check out Fagstein for a great rundown of events, links and thoughts from a Montreal freelancer and copy editor at the Montreal Gazette.