Desperately seeking scabs

In the face of a possible employee strike at the Montreal Gazette, Canwest News Service has approached journalism students from Concordia University and offered them work on a temporary basis, CBC News reports.

According to the article, a j-student named Dominique Jarry-Shore, who has freelanced for the Gazette, received a phone call from a Canwest editor asking her if she would be interested in temporary work. Her answer? Nope, this is not a positive way to enter the workforce. She said:

“He explained that it was because of the contentious labour
negotiations that were going on and the possibility of a strike, and
that he was trying to line up people to write for him.”

The CBC report indicates that Canwest News Service editor-in-chief Gerry Nott admitted that offers were made to students, but that such offers had “nothing to do with the labour dispute at the Montreal Gazette.”

Concordia journalism school director Mike Gasher said the problem with this situation is that it puts students in a tough spot. He added:

“They’re in our program, obviously, to get a job in the industry some
day. When a big newspaper comes calling, it’s very tempting, but I
think what they are doing is recruiting scab labour, and they call it
replacement work if they want.”

Jarry-Shore also freelances for Maclean’s magazine, and in a Maclean’s blog post titled “Canwest gets scabby with it,” Martin Patriquin notes that the journalism student was offered just $250 for a story. He writes:

“Jarry-Shore said several of her fellow classmates were also contacted. “He said that if we’re worried about being seen as scabs we don’t have to get a byline.” If $250 seems a touch on the low side, well… it’s because it is.
“Not only was he asking me to be a scab, he was lowballing me,”
Jarry-Shore said. “The irony is, if I were to freelance the same
article at the Gazette right now, I would probably be paid double.”

Gazette staffers pulled their bylines on October 2nd, as a work-to-rule campaign went into effect when bargaining talks stalled.