By H.G. Watson, Associate Editor
Postmedia has announced that they plan to lay off 54 staff at the Vancouver Sun and The Province by early April.
A memo posted by Financial Post media reporter Sean Craig on Twitter outlined details of the layoffs, described as the “second stage of our salary deduction initiative.” Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia’s spokesperson, confirmed to J-Source in an email that the layoffs are, “further to the salary cost reduction initiative previously announced and the end of the voluntary buyout process.” Last year, Postmedia offered buyouts company wide.
Postmedia is laying off 54 at Pacific Newspaper Group, its division which owns the Vancouver Sun / Province. Here's the memo. pic.twitter.com/5BhephIWg3— Sean Craig (@sdbcraig) March 10, 2017
The memo states that lay-offs will likely impact all departments at the Pacific Newspaper Group, the division of Postmedia that includes the Sun and The Province. The two papers’ newsrooms merged last year as part of another large round of layoffs and mergers at Postmedia.
Under the terms of the employees’ collective agreement, employees also have the option to take a buyout in place of any staffers “who would otherwise be laid off.”
This announcement comes just a day after news leaked of substantial benefits cuts for non-unionized Postmedia employees. Vancouver Sun and The Province staff are represented by Unifor Local 2000.
In a statement on their website, Brian Gibson, Unifor Local 2000 president, said that the employer has actually turned a profit. “There’s no reason for aggressive job cuts that will further damage the quality of professional journalism that British Columbians rely on,” he added.
The union said that these potential layoffs, combined with recent buyouts, has reduced the entire staff by 42 per cent. “The latest round of lay-offs try to skirt the collective agreement and will ultimately face legal challenges from the union,” the statement continues.
Meanwhile, reaction to the news has slowly trickled out on Twitter:
Very grim in this Sun/Province newsroom today with 54 layoffs announced despite profits made from our Van readers/advertisers.— Kim Bolan (@kbolan) March 10, 2017
Bought these years ago, in my first real job as a reporter, at The Vancouver Sun. Sad day today. pic.twitter.com/w1dgZKzClD— Chris Nuttall-Smith (@cnutsmith) March 10, 2017
Good god ... it absolutely breaks my heart to see what is happening to my former newspaper. Devastating. https://t.co/7vnCs5uw0B— Gary Mason (@garymasonglobe) March 10, 2017
Mass layoffs at Sun/Province today, as last of signage comes down from 200 Granville. Angry and saddened. Thinking of friends there. pic.twitter.com/slMFsHldo9— Andrea Woo | 鄔瑞楓 (@AndreaWoo) March 10, 2017