The Chronicle Herald employees have a new countdown to keep track of: the countdown to a lockout.
The conciliation officer assigned by the government to facilitate talks between the Halifax newspaper and its newsroom staff indicated that talks failed and filed a final report with the Department of Labour on Friday.
The release of the report triggers a 14-day countdown after which the newspaper can lock out its employees — or the union can go on strike. That means a work stoppage could come as early as Jan. 23.
If the employees are locked out, it will be the second time in the past 12 months for the newspaper. Thirteen press workers were locked out in March 2015 after the union voted to reject the company’s previous offer.
“The union never responded to the company’s monetary proposals,” vice-president of administration Nancy Cook said in a release on Monday.
The union wants a 7.5 per cent increase in salaries over three years. Cook added that the newsroom employees are the highest paid in the region.
The release also states that even with the reductions The Chronicle Herald is proposing, the paper would still maintain its status as the biggest media company in Atlantic Canada offering better wages and benefits than other outlets.
“In a fragmented media landscape, the Herald remains the biggest and best. However, there is no denying that we are in a challenging business and we must reduce costs to remain competitive,” Cook said.
She added that the changes The Herald is proposing, such as laying off all photographers and having reporters take their own photos, reflect the changes happening in media on a larger scale.
Cook said the newspaper would be happy to return to the table to try to come to an agreement without a lockout, something that a conciliator will often ask the two sides to do.