Union response to Metroland layoffs

    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The foundation of our democracy is being
steadily eroded with yet another announcement of layoffs at a newspaper chain,
says Brad Honywill, president of the Local union representing unionized
newspaper employees in Ontario.
    Today, the Metroland Media Group of Torstar announced the elimination of
64 full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions at three newspapers serving southern
Ontario, including 30 FTE's at the Hamilton Spectator, 21 at the Waterloo
Region Record and 13 at the Guelph Mercury.
    "Combined with the number of employees who recently took voluntary
severance packages at Metroland, this represents a major cut to news
operations serving readers in southern Ontario," said Honywill, president of
Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP).
    "That inevitably affects the quality of news gathering that takes place
at our newspapers, and that affects the ability of our citizens to be educated
on what's happening in our communities and, consequently, the health of our
    "This is an extremely sad day for the union at The Hamilton Spectator,"
said Paul Morse, CEP Local 87-M unit chair. "Despite voluntary short term
sacrifices to try to save jobs, these layoffs will cut deeply into a newspaper
that has always provided highest-quality journalism."
    "This is the worse layoff in Record history, extending back more than 100
years," said unit chair Rob Reid. "The newspaper industry is in economic
turmoil as the North American financial crisis continues to spiral out of
control. "Like it or not, the Record is a diminished newspaper as a result of
the staff reductions that come on the heels of voluntary buyouts and other
cost-cutting efficiencies."
    Since the term "full-time-equivalent" includes the combination of
full-time and part-time hours to arrive at a number that is equivalent to the
hours of full-time positions, the number of people losing their jobs is
actually about 20% higher.
    Today's announcement follows the announcement by the Globe and Mail three
weeks ago that it was eliminating almost 90 jobs and Sun Media's announcement
in December that it was eliminating 10% of its workforce, including about 50
jobs at the Toronto Sun. Smaller newspapers across the province were also hit
hard in that announcement.

For further information:

For further information: Paul Morse, Hamilton Spectator Unit Chair, W:
(905) 526-3434; Rob Reid, Waterloo Record Unit Chair, W: (519) 894-2231, ext
2634; Greg Rothwell, Guelph Mercury Unit Chair, H: (519) 653-4068; Brad
Honywill, President CEP Local 87-M (SONG), C: (905) 334-9259

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Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild

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