Interns doing the work of laid off staffers?

[NOTE: This post has been updated] The union representing laid-off journalists at Torstar-owned Metro has filed five grievances related to interns that were brought in just days before four unionized writers and two managers were terminated.

According to a post on The Globe and Mail‘s Nobody’s Business blog, the paper laid off all of its staff writers.

Bill McDonald, Metro‘s group publisher for English Canada said:

“We made a small adjustment to our staff. We’re managing our business in these economic times.”

He added that copy will be supplied by “a number of content partnerships including The Toronto Star, wire services and extensive use of freelancers.”

Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada said:

“In this kind of environment, layoffs are inevitable. But we reject the notion they can fill jobs with interns hired three days beforehand.”

UPDATE: The day after the post mentioned above appeared in Patricia Best’s Nobody’s Business blog on the Globe, the paper printed a correction. The correction stated:

“Metro newspaper in Toronto is not replacing laid-off writers with
interns. The newspaper’s internship program was not altered as a result
of recent layoffs in the editorial department. A column published
yesterday may have suggested otherwise.”

Dianne Rinehart, editor-in-chief of Metro English Canada also posted to the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list:

“Metro’s ongoing internship program is — and has always been — designed to mentor students and help them gain newsroom experience to graduate from journalism schools across the country.”