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Québec City, Thursday, December 3, 2009 – Labour relations at Journal de Québec have hit a new low. Since the end of the lockout in August 2008, no fewer than 40 grievances have been filed by union members, including 32 from the writers’ union alone. For the Québec City daily founded in 1967, this is a first!

It’s very difficult to move forward with people who go back on their word,” commented Denis Bolduc, the union employee spokesperson at Journal de Québec (CUPE). “I’d truly like for the situation to be different. I would like for union employees and executives to work together every morning to make positive changes at Le Journal and to better meet our readers’ needs. But, the agreements we signed are not being upheld.”

He explained for example that the minimum employee level set out in the collective agreement guarantees 52 employees in the writing department—50 full time employees, including eight photographers, as well as two part time employees. “Right now in the writing department we’re nine people short of the minimum.” The agreement also stipulates that Journal de Québec journalists and photographers be assigned to cover news within a 30 km radius of Québec City. “But the employer has repeatedly—and knowingly—violated this provision,” denounced Denis Bolduc.

We have to wonder if refusing to uphold the agreement is the strategy of Journal de Québec executives or rather that of Québecor’s senior management.” But for Bolduc, one thing is certain: The company must “comply with the initial agreements. Especially considering that at the end of the conflict, and even just recently, Québecor management said it was fully satisfied with the agreement signed with Journal de Québec.”

The union is reluctant to “go to court over issues that shouldn’t have to be settled there. We don’t see a reason to burden the courts—at the expense of taxpayers and others—to have a judge tell us that 43 is 9 fewer than 52,” concluded Denis Bolduc. The collective agreements in force at Journal de Québec were signed at the end of a 16 month lockout in 2007–2008.

Apart from its 7,250 members in the Québec communications sector, CUPE is also active in a number of other sectors, particularly health and social services, education, urban and air transportation, provincial corporations and public organizations, energy, and municipalities. With nearly 105,000 members, it is the largest FTQ affiliate.