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QUEBEC CITYCUPE BC president Barry O’Neill visits the newsroom of Media Matin Quebec along with René Fortin, executive assistant to CUPE National president Paul Moist, and SCFP Quebec president Mario Gervais. Editor Marc Fortier explains page layout while reporter Anne-Marie A. Savoie looks on. (Photo courtesy of Stevens Leblanc)

It’s been a while since Barry O’Neill had a paper route, but on September 26 the CUPE BC president was up at the crack of dawn to help hand out 1,900 copies of Media Matin, the free alternative daily run by locked-out workers of Le Journal, to the news-hungry residents of Quebec City.

 O’Neill was in Quebec last week to offer moral support to the 252 CUPE members and get an update on the dispute, which has raised national awareness about the disturbing increase in media convergence and concentrated ownership of news resources.

At CUPE BC’s convention in May, delegates passed a unanimous motion to donate $2,000 for the locked-out employees’ hardship fund.

These workers have shown real resilience and ingenuity, despite the union-busting efforts of the Quebecor media giant, which has kept them locked out since April,” O’Neill said.

This company’s vision of the future is to copy and paste the same content through all of their newspapers, printed matter, television stations and websites so that all the information is the same and local perspectives disappear.”

O’Neill echoed CUPE National secretary-treasurer Claude Généreux’s recent call for a strict regulatory framework to prevent “unbridled convergence” of media resources, which affects newsrooms from coast to coast.

Praising CUPE members for their fine product at Media Matin, he also had a small word of advice for Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau.

I’m sure Mr. Peladeau wasn’t counting on his locked-out workers coming up with a better product than Le Journal, but with Media Matin that’s exactly what’s happened. I hope he reads this paper every day, to keep up.”