Locked-Out ‘Journal de Quebec’ Workers Start Free Paper

By: E&P Staff

Union employees of the French-language Journal de Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec, who have been locked out of their jobs by owner Quebecor, have launched a free-distribution daily.

MediaMatin Quebec will be published Mondays through Fridays, and will emphasize local news, the unions said in an announcement. The first edition, published Tuesday, had a press run of 40,000 copies.

The Journal de Quebec, the city’s biggest paper, has a circulation of about 104,000 weekdays, and 127,000 on Saturdays, traditionally the biggest-selling day for Canadian newspapers.

Denis Bolduc, spokesperson for the Journal de Quebec locked-out workers, said in a statement that “everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel” in publishing the daily.

“The expertise of all the locked-out workers, whether journalists or photographers, will be put to good use,” Bolduc. What the union members really want, he added, is to reach an agreement with the Journal. Creating the strike paper, he said, should be viewed as a pressure tactic to return management to the bargaining table.

The Journal continues to publish during the lockout.

Four unions affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-FTQ) represent about 280 employees at the paper. The union representing the advertising staff narrowly ratified a new contract with the newspaper, but the others have balked at proposals to add four hours to the work week with no additional pay.

A Quebecor spokesperson, Luc Lavoie, told the National Post, in an article by Barbara Shecter, that Journal employees work just four days a week, have six weeks of vacation, and are paid high wages.

Editors are paid C$100,400 (US$89,503) a year, and copy editors an average of C$64,000 (US$57,053).

“Working five days a week is common practice in the western world. I don’t think its very extravagant for an employer to ask,” Lavoie told the National Post.

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