Unifor says SaltWire’s credit protection filing is more devastating news for a walloped media sector

Main Image
an exterior sign of the Chronicle Herald

ST. JOHN’S –Unifor is deeply concerned after Atlantic newspaper owner SaltWire Network Inc. filed for creditor protection yesterday. In addition, a private equity fund has alleged the company owes it roughly $33 million after years of mismanagement out of its $94 million total debt load.

"Yesterday’s news is devastating for the journalists and media workers who have continued to deliver local news for communities throughout Atlantic Canada and who have been through numerous challenging times,” said Unifor’s National President Lana Payne. “This one cuts close to home as I got my start in journalism many years ago at the St. John’s Telegram. I know how committed these media workers are.”

“This is yet another massive hit to local news that threatens the jobs of hard-working journalist and media worker members and worsens what has been a growing number of news deserts across this country. We stand by our members as we weather this storm together,” Payne added.

There are 35 Unifor Local 441-G members working as reporters, videographers, printing press, and in advertising at the Telegram who were notified by the company’s Chief Operating Officer Ian Scott yesterday of its Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA) filing.

The private fund also claims the Chronicle Herald, the Halifax-based newspaper that SaltWire owns, owes $2.6 million for missed pension payments, according to the legal documents. The status of pension funding will be of particular concern to Unifor during the CCAA proceedings.

The CCAA is federal legislation designed to provide large companies the opportunity to restructure their operations and/or their financial obligations in order to continue in operation once the crisis that led to the filing of the CCAA application is addressed. It is also used as a way to liquidate companies in an orderly way. 

Unifor will expect the courts supervising the CCAA process to diligently consider employee interests and strictly apply the limited rules that protect employees instead of lenders.

Meanwhile, the loss of local news across Canada – including in the Atlantic region – is devastating to our country and our democracy, if you consider this announcement is on the heels of Metroland newspaper closings and Bell Media layoffs.

“Employees and members at The Telegram, who consistently punch above their weight, were hoping that their recent sacrifices through tough pandemic times would help stabilize the company and pay off with job security,” said Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Jennifer Murray.

“Instead, they now face the stress and uncertainty of their paycheques, benefits, pensions and severance at risk, while watching their communities’ democracy suffer with every additional news media bankruptcy or restructuring.”

The union has not received any word of changes in day-to-day operations, including layoffs, and will continue to monitor the situation and keep the membership informed.

Unifor represents more than 10,000 media workers, including journalists in the broadcast and print news industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative: Jenny Yuen at @email or (416) 938-6157.