NATIONAL

Quebec’s workers: paradise lost?

BENOIT AUBIN May 7 2007
NATIONAL

Quebec’s workers: paradise lost?

BENOIT AUBIN May 7 2007

Quebec’s workers: paradise lost?

NATIONAL

BENOIT AUBIN

Nice work, while they could get it. News editors, reportedly paid over $100,000 a year for 32 hours of work over four-day weeks, are now on the street, wondering what’s hit them. PKP playing hard ball is what. Pierre-Karl Péladeau—head of

Quebecor, the sprawling conglomerate of television, cable, Internet, bookstores, glossies, weeklies, freebies and dailies, including the chain of Sun tabloids—has locked them out. Some 140 journalists, editors and office workers in the newsroom of Le Journal de Québec—Quebec City’s leading tabloid—were met by security guards and riot fences earlier this week. They’ve rejected rollbacks in pay and work conditions, and multi-tasking sought by management, and are now putting out an alternative paper while management keeps pumping Le Journal out the door using news wires and stories from other Quebecor outlets.

Management wants reporters and editors to work 37-5 hours, and five days a week, which mightn’t seem onerous, or unusual, but has struck a nerve. Quebecor was built into a media behemoth—and a workers’ paradise—by the late Pierre Péladeau, around the Journal de Montréal, a scrappy tabloid that fed off labour problems caused by ideologydriven unions plaguing its established rival, Montreal’s La Presse.

Now, it’s his son’s turn to run into the enlightened left. Lucien Bouchard, the former PQ premier, has triggered a debate in the province, saying Quebecers don’t work hard enough, and can’t sustain their current lifestyle. Opponents say there is more to life than the bottom line: family, quality of life matter too. Says the newspaper union’s Denis Bolduc: “Quebecor’s goal is to eliminate jobs. But we’d rather share our pool of work with more colleagues than fewer.” Right now, though, they’re working for free. M