Sun Media cutting 200 jobs across the company including about 50 from editorial

MONTREAL – Sun Media Corp. is cutting another 200 jobs across the company, of which about a quarter will come from its editorial operations outside Quebec.

The company said it regrets the cuts it says are necessary to ensure its sustainability in the face of the unprecedented changes in the print media industry.

“It is very tough to announce job cuts,” stated president and CEO Julie Tremblay. “But as distressing as they are for the employees involved, these restructuring initiatives are necessary to maintain our leading position and ensure the corporation’s sustainability.”

The subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc. has 36 paid-circulation daily newspapers and three free dailies as well as almost 200 community newspapers, shopping guides and other specialty publications.

Vice-president Martin Tremblay said none of the 50 editorial job losses announced Wednesday will be in Quebec, although some of the 150 other affected positions are in the province. He said the timing of the departures will depend on local collective agreements.

The cuts announced Wednesday are just the latest round at Sun Media.

The company slashed 360 jobs and shut down 11 publications earlier this year and cut 500 jobs at Sun Media newspapers last November.

The latest round of layoffs will leave Sun Media with 3,800 employees, including more than 1,000 journalists.

The union representing most Sun Media employees in Ontario said 18 positions are expected to be cut at several papers, including the Toronto Sun, London Free Press, Belleville Intelligencer, Chatham Daily News, Sarnia Observer, Stratford Beacon-Herald, Brantford Expositor, Owen Sound Sun-Times, St. Catharines Standard and the Niagara Falls Review.

“The timing of this announcement, coming just three weeks before Christmas, couldn’t have been worse,” said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M. “Our sympathies go out to members who will have the threat of layoff hanging over their head this holiday season.”

Morse urged the company to offer an incentive so employees can leave voluntarily or retire early.

The union in Winnipeg said two jobs will be affected at the Winnipeg Sun, but it wasn’t immediately clear in which departments. That follows the layoff a year ago of two advertising jobs and six newsroom positions as copy editing work was transferred to Calgary.

“I’m getting tired with the regularity of the layoffs in Sun Media, Post Media,” said Unifor local staff representative John Webster. “I realize the landscape has changed but quite frankly I’m getting tired with the regularity of job losses in this industry.”

At least two positions will be affected in northern Ontario, including a graphics designer in Sudbury and a journalist in North Bay, said Martin O’Hanlon, director of the Communications Workers of America Canada.

“Sun Media, just every time you think they’ve hit bottom, they find a lower bottom and it’s scary stuff for journalism,” he said from Ottawa.

O’Hanlon said cutting jobs harms the quality of the newspapers and drives away readers.

While it has been hurt by declining advertising, he said the company is losing a lot of money each year on Sun News Network.

“If that $20 million wasn’t being lost there they wouldn’t need any of these cuts, in fact they would be able to invest in their products.”

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