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Negotiators for three locked out CUPE locals at the Journal de Québec have secured bargaining dates with Québecor for mid-January.

About 240 workers at the Québec City daily have been locked out since April 22, 2007 by a company demanding huge cutbacks and workplace restructuring in the name of “convergence”.

Instead of picketing, the workers have been publishing their own daily, MediaMatinQuébec, and distributing it free, by hand.

Union spokesperson Denis Bolduc remains cautious about the talks.

“We hope the January discussions can pave the way to a settlement,” Bolduc said. “It’s certain that the solution to this conflict will be found at the bargaining table - I’ve said it a hundred times - but over the past few months our members have often been disappointed by what happens there.”

The two sides have agreed to a series of exploratory meetings with conciliator Jean Poirier betweem Jan. 15 and Jan. 28. The sides have also agreed to a ban on public commentary on these talks.