Posted on August 7, 2017
After 18 months, employees and Halifax Chronicle Herald reach deal
The union representing the employees of the paper and the Halifax Chronicle Herald have reached after the authorities intervened in the labour dispute that was bitter.
Unionized reporters, photographers, editors and support staff walked off the job on Jan. 23, 2016, after bargaining over the paper’s union contract broke down because of issues involving wage and jobs reductions and increased operating hours. The company said the changes were needed to deal with challenges.
The state launched an Industrial Inquiry Commission that enforced mediation a step the government had been asked by that the union. If the mediation hadn’t led to a tentative agreement, an commissioner could have provided recommendations to the ministry on measures and could have launched an investigation.
Union members will vote on the deal on Thursday. Until then, there is a media blackout set up and the agreement’s details won’t be released.
“We are very relieved we got to the stage where we can make a deal” said Ingrid Bulmer, the president of the Halifax Typographical Union, adding that the provincially appointed Judge William Kaplan was crucial in getting to this stage. “We are excited about seeing it ratified and working along with the company to get past this lengthy dispute we had.”
If agreed on, workers would return to work on Aug. 14, Ms. Bulmer said. Not all 51 employees will go back, she said, but the particulars of that couldn’t be disclosed as the data is part of the agreement.
“I’m guessing it probably will be accepted by the union members,” stated Stephen Kimber, a journalism professor at the University of King’s College. “It is entirely possible that this arrangement won’t satisfy everyone and [they] will be back on the picket line on Friday, but my guess is that both sides were aware of what was required to settle this.”
Ian Scott, chief operating officer for SaltWire Network, which owns The Chronicle Herald, Canada’s oldest and largest independently owned newspaper, said the firm wouldn’t be able to comment on the tentative deal, and it has agreed to “radio silence” before ratification.
The Halifax Typographical Union and the SaltWire Network said in a statement that a deal was reached after two days of mediation. Both teams thanked Mr. Kaplan, the mediator appointed by the government of Nova Scotia to solve the dispute.
“I think it’s very interesting that within 2 days of the high-powered mediator becoming involved they reached an agreement,” Prof. Kimber said. “It forces you to ask yourself, ‘Could this have been settled months ago if in fact the government had appointed a mediator when they were requested to do so? ”’
Nova Scotia’s acting Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Derek Mombourquette, thanked the two sides as well as the mediator in a statement on Saturday for their work to accomplish the tentative agreement and expects this “starts the process of rebuilding the relationship between both parties.”
The Herald has relied while its workers have been on strike on employees who crossed the picket line. Spectacular workers launched their own news website, localxpress.ca, which will be shut if the agreement is reached, Ms. Bulmer said.
“I believe that it’s going to be very tricky to fix this broken relationship,” Prof. Kimber said. “This was a relationship that was problematic even before the attack began. There’s a good deal of bad blood and a lot rage and bitterness that’s going to be tough to resolve when they must get back to the exact same construction and work together to make a paper”