One year ago on December 12, 2008, the Commission des relations du travail du Québec (CRT) ruled that Quebecor/Sun Media had used illegal workers during the 16 month lockout at Journal de Québec, the longest labour dispute in the history of any Canadian French-language daily. One year later, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has released a 23 minute documentary on the conflict./>
Directed by Ian Morin and titled Journal de Québec, a long dispute, the documentary gives voice to key union figures, locked out workers, and everyday citizens of Quebec City.
The documentary recounts the story of 252 Quebec City newspaper employees and how they changed the way labour disputes are conducted, with the publication and distribution of an alternate daily paper supplanting traditional picket lines.
Journal de Québec, a long dispute reminds the viewer that the organization of the union counterattack was clandestine at first, using the code name “Langouste” (“lobster”). The alternate publication began as an idea from photographer René Baillargeon: start Quebec City’s first free daily as a way to pressure the company. And thus MédiaMatinQuébec was born.
“Instead of 252 people on a picket line, we had 40,000 new ‘pickets’ five times a week,” said Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer, describing the strategic value of MédiaMatin’s 40,000-copy daily run.
The video also tells a love story in the form of daily encounters between the locked-out paper peddlers and their readers on the Quebec City streets. The chemistry was real. “One reader often made cookies for us, and she even brought us the recipe,” said Rollande Roy, Journal de Québec receptionist.
And it’s also the story of a one-on-one with Pierre Karl Péladeau, head of Quebecor, who bluntly admits to a journalist that “the conflict has gone on long enough”—only to then ask him “…and for whom do you work for, sir?” The response, from locked out journalist Alain Bergeron: “MédiaMatinQuébec.”
Documentary interviews were filmed in April 2009.