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This is really hard on us — Rally marks 511 days on picket line for Chronicle Herald workers

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Lots of people turned out this morning for a rally and barbecue in support of the striking Chronicle Herald workers. 

Union members and other allies came to the sidewalk in front of the Chronicle Herald headquarters to show they haven’t forgotten about the Herald workers, to listen to speeches, and enjoy a hot dog. Many passing cars honked in support. After an almost unprecedented 511 days on a defensive strike the reporters, editors and photographers definitely could use this show of support.

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“This is really hard on us,” says Tom Ayers, a striking Herald reporter based in Sydney, Cape Breton. Ayers traveled to Halifax for the occasion after a supporter offered to pay for gas and take his spot in the picket line. “The worst part is the uncertainty. My car is reaching the end of its life, but I can’t afford a new car. It is a difficult and stressful time,” said Ayers.

The company wants to cut salaries and increase working hours, significantly reduce benefits in the defined benefit pension plan, and eliminate seniority considerations when staff are targeted for layoffs. The reporters, editors and photographers, members of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) have made many concessions to their employer over the last 17 months, but the owner has not reciprocated.

King’s journalism students are well aware of what is happening, and it bothers them, said Brennan McCracken, president of the University of King’s College student union.

“It is appalling that this strike has been going on so long, and that young journalists and student journalists are learning and coming up in a province where fair working conditions are not a given, and where a fair and equitable workplace is something journalists actually have to fight for,” McCracken told the Nova Scotia Advocate.

“The strike has been a much discussed topic among students. Across the board people are unhappy with the Chronicle Herald,” McCracken said.

Also at the rally was Lisa Blackburn, HRM councillor for district 14, which filled my heart with joy, since district 14 just happens to be where I live. “I am here to send a message to management and to the paper that we haven’t forgotten how these workers are being treated after the sacrifices they have made to help their company grow and improve,” said Blackburn, who is a former journalist herself.

Blackburn is one of several councillors who refuse to talk to Herald scab reporters and boycott companies who advertise in the paper. Of course the City itself also advertises in the herald, mostly public notices, but that would be very difficult to change, Blackburn suggested.

Striking Herald reporter Claire McIlveen reminded rally attendants of that ongoing boycott, which currently focuses on the Sobeys chains. “We are asking you to tell your friends to join in the Sobeys boycott,” said McIlveen. “Expect people outside of Sobeys stores telling customers to take their business elsewhere.”

The HTU is asking subscribers to cancel their subscriptions, including flyer deliveries. In Metro: call 902-426-3031, anywhere else in Nova Scotia call 1-800-565-3339 (toll-free). Follow the HTU on Twitter and Facebook.

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