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Unifor aims to protect workers amid major Postmedia restructuring

VANCOUVER AND CALGARY, Sept. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union, is exploring all options to protect the interests of workers in the media sector following an announcement of major restructuring and layoffs at Postmedia.

On September 9, Postmedia Network Inc. abruptly announced plans to sell the Calgary Herald property in Alberta and outsource printing and distribution effective November 4, 2013. In B.C. the company announced it intends to sell its Kennedy Heights printing facility in Surrey (which prints copies of the Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers) and outsource the work.

Unifor Western Region Director Scott Doherty said the news is troubling and that the union is exploring every option to ensure workers in both facilities are protected and that the negative impacts are mitigated.

"These newspapers have been very profitable over the years," Doherty said. "Our members were the source of those profits and must be treated with respect."

Unifor Local 34-G President Larry Barber, representing 55 full-time workers at the Calgary Herald, called the news devastating.

"Our members, who have dedicated so much of their lives to this company, have been told that in just over a month they're out of a job. This sort of treatment is absolutely unfair."

Unifor Local 2000 President Mike Bocking, representing 600 members at The Sun and Province, including 260 at Kennedy Heights, said the company has given the union until November 18 to reach a cost-cutting deal for operating a new plant or work will be outsourced in early 2015.

"We have bargained language in our agreement that there will be no layoffs during the life of the current contract as a result of contracting out, which offers some security as we examine our options," Bocking said.

Local 2000 will be meeting company representatives over the next few weeks to discuss the way forward.

Unifor represents over 30,000 members in the media sector, working in newspaper, broadcast, film, printing and graphical industries.