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Union files complaint as Chronicle Herald management threatens workers with never ending strike

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – “Not until March, or even next Christmas.”  That’s how long the Chronicle Herald newsroom workers will continue to be on strike if they don’t give in to the the Herald’s draconian demands.

HTU President Ingrid Bulmer tells the strikers to stay strong, while HTU vice president Frank Campbell looks on. Photo Robert Devet

That’s what Ian Scott, chief operating officer at the paper, wrote the bargaining team of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) in an email last week. The workers have been on strike for a baffling 290 days.

The email arrived while an effort to bring the conflict to a resolution came to naught last Friday. The failed talks marked the first time the parties met at the negotiating table since May.

The union is now filing a complaint with the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

“You can’t bargain the scope of a contract to impasse,” explained Willy Palov, a sports writer and member of the HTU bargaining team.  “Yet all the way back to before the strike even began management has bargained to exclude editors and other positions, and they have rejected all our offers.”

During last week’s bargaining efforts the union even agreed to discuss the surrender of some bargaining unit jobs in page production, said Palov.

But not without counter- concessions from the Herald owners, such as standard seniority protection, and improved severance for workers who have dedicated their entire careers to the company, said Palov.

The union had already offered the company an across-the-board five per cent wage cut, and agreed to move away from a defined benefit pension plan.

“We heard nothing back,” said Palov, who emphasized that this was a one-time offer.

All along CWA Canada, the national union that represents the 55 HTU members, has been negotiating successful deals  across the country, deals that are similar to what the HTU members are looking for, said Palov, pointing to the Telegram in St. John’s and the Moncton Times & Transcript as recent examples.

“I know it’s been a long time and it isn’t what we wanted,” Ingrid Bulmer, president of the HTU told the picketers and sympathizers who gathered in front of the Herald offices on Dutch Village Road for an impromptu rally.

“We will continue to go after the Herald advertisers, and we will keep asking subscribers to stop subscribing. We will keep asking people to go to the Local Xpress, and we’re going to kick their ass,” said Bulmer.

“We’re in this together. Don’t let the company get you down. We have to stay strong and we have to do it together,” she said.

Palov hopes that the Labour Board will consider the complaint before Christmas, considering the long duration of the strike. But that’s up to the Board, he said.

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