By: Jim Rosenberg
Some copies of Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail never reached readers today, and many others arrived late, after protesters delayed the early morning departure of delivery trucks from the Transcontinental printing plant in Mississauga, Ontario.
A recorded phone message advised the newspaper’s customers of some delivery problems in Toronto and other areas of Ontario that were caused by the labor protest at the plant.
According to executives at the newspaper and its printer, protesters began picketing Bell Canada outside the plant last night. The phone company’s corporate parent, BCE, also owns Bell Globemedia, of which the Globe and Mail is a division, as well as broadcaster CTV Inc.
Protests were not directed against contract printer Transcontinental (owner of its own, separate newspaper group), with which the Globe and Mail in November extended its printing contract by five years, through 2015. The Mississauga plant prints more than 200,000 copies of the Globe and Mail for distribution in Ontario. Other Transcontinental plants print the paper for distribution elsewhere in Canada.
“They did not restrain any of our activity,” Transcontinental Printing Newspaper Group Senior Vice President Francois Olivier told E&P. “They were just on the street,” where they “obstructed” truck traffic, Olivier said. “They let the last truck go at seven o’clock this morning.”
“We actually got about 60 to 70% of the edition out,” Globe and Mail Operations Vice President Andy Ritchie said from Toronto. Delays amounted to about 45 minutes per truck, he said, adding, “some of our [very late] loads were dumped, and guys went home.”
A Canadian source attributed the action to a group within the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union that was not necessarily acting with official union backing. A Globe and Mail human resources manager declined to discuss the matter.
CEP executives in Toronto could not immediately be reached for comment.
Asked about the picketers’ relationship to the union, Ritchie would say only that he thought their action “very strange.” Because the Globe and Mail is a CEP employer, he said, “they were actually hurting their own union members.”
Praising staffers for managing to move most copies to readers, but refusing to be more specific, Ritchie said the paper took certain “tactical approaches to get the paper out.”
“We had plans in place last night. Tonight we will be 10 times more prepared, he said. “They’re not going to stop us from getting our paper out.”
Transcontinental’s Olivier said, “We don’t expect them to be there tonight.” He said he thought any continuing protest would move on to another, Bell site.