Postmedia and its union reach an agreement to save 21 jobs at Vancouver Sun and Province

Sean Craig

Union members at the Vancouver Sun and Province approved a new collective agreement with Postmedia on Wednesday that will save 21 jobs at the two publications.

Postmedia Network Inc. announced last month it would lay off 54 people at Pacific Newspaper Group, its British Columbia subsidiary that oversees the two newspapers. That followed 38 voluntary buyouts at PNG in January, which Unifor said taken together with the layoffs would have amounted to a 42 per cent reduction in staff levels.

Under the terms of the new CBA, all non advertising employees agreed to work nine days every two weeks, thus taking a ten per cent pay cut in order to save their colleagues’ jobs. Advertising staff will also see a ten per cent salary cut, but will still have to work the same full time hours with the opportunity to make up the reduction in pay through commission.

Unifor Local 2000 members voted 82 per cent in favour of the new agreement at a meeting held Wednesday evening.

“I voted yes to save jobs even though it’s frustrating to get paid 10 per cent less despite working for a profitable newspaper,” said Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan. “I hope [Postmedia CEO Paul] Godfrey really does invest in journalism instead of continuing the cuts.”

The agreement, which Postmedia has the right to reopen after 18 months, also protects members from further involuntary layoffs and introduces a modified benefits package.

“This is a good example of management and the union working together to find efficiencies within the collective agreement that allowed us to preserve content and invest in our editorial products,” Godfrey said in a statement.

“Because of the hard work done by the bargaining committee we were able to find ways to preserve as many jobs as possible and keep strong local voices in the Vancouver Sun and Province,” said union president Brian Gibson in a statement.

While the news is a positive sign for journalism in Vancouver and British Columbia, Postmedia said earlier this month that it will continue to pursue cost-cutting after the company cut 20 per cent of its total salary costs through buyouts and layoffs in recent months.

The company lost $26.5 million in the second quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, with revenue decreasing 13.5 per cent year-over-year to $180.8 million for the three months ending Feb. 28.

Savings from the salary cuts, which took place across the company in late 2016 and early 2017, were already evident in the quarter: Postmedia spent $76.7 million on compensation for the three month period, around 15 per cent less than the $90 million it spent in the same period a year before.

Financial Post