June 16, 2009 / 8:30 PM / in 8 years

Canada's Globe and Mail staff to hold strike vote

TORONTO (Reuters) - About 480 workers at Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper will vote this weekend on whether to give their union a strike mandate amid tense negotiations over a new contract, a union official said on Tuesday.

“The bargaining has been very difficult,” said Brad Honywill, president of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 87-M.

The current contract expires June 30 and a strike or a lockout at the national paper could take place immediately afterward. The vote is slated for Saturday, Honywill said.

“We’re hoping that by getting a strike mandate, the employer will come back to the bargaining table willing to negotiate,” he said, without detailing the issues causing problems in the contract talks.

“So far, they’ve had a very aggressive agenda and have refused to budge from that.”

The union represents the Globe’s advertising, circulation and editorial employees.

Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley said he would not comment on the talks while they are ongoing. He noted there are three more bargaining sessions scheduled before the current contract expires.

“The process is under way and we’ll respect the process,” he said on Tuesday.

The Globe is owned by CTVglobemedia, a privately held media company that also owns the national CTV television network.

CTVglobemedia is in turn owned by BCE Inc, Torstar Corp, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and Woodbridge Co, which is the investment vehicle of Canada’s billionaire Thomson family. Woodbridge is also the biggest shareholder of Thomson Reuters.

Many newspapers and media companies have seen their fortunes turn sour in recent months as the economy hit the skids and advertisers slashed spending.

To cope with the downturn, media groups have laid off staff and sought salary, benefit and other concessions from their remaining employees.

The Globe has not been immune: in January, it revealed plans to cut about 80 jobs through layoffs and voluntary severance.

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson

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