As of this past Monday, reporters have been locked out of the Journal de Montreal for two years – although they’ve continued to run daily, Quebec’s most popular French newspaper hasn’t produced a single story in-house, and it’s taking its toll.
The lockdown has not only impacted the material in the newspaper but also the overall morale of their journalists. "Workers have been getting by with less money than before. [They] haven’t been contributing to their retirement fund, and many feel like they’ve lost their identity," said union president Raynald Leblanc in French to CBC News.
Ninety percent of Journal employees turned down the last offer that was made by Quebecor Media Inc., their employer, in October of last year.
However, the union as well as QMI are back at the table trying to negotiate a new deal. For example, according to CBC News, an offer to bring back several locked-out workers was offered by Quebecor, however they also decided to cut several positions at the newspaper. Additionally, they’ve asked that employees work longer hours and receive less benefits while outsourcing certain projects. A mediator from the province’s Labour Ministry has been brought in to help with the negotiations between the two feuding parties.
Union member Pascal Filotto told CTV Montreal’s Aphrodite Salas, “It’s been a hard two years and an amazing experience on a lot of levels. To be all together after two years is pretty special I think… I think we’re closer to a settlement than we’ve been. There’s probably less in front of us than we’ve already covered."
The Journal de Montreal lockdown is the longest of its kind in North America.