UPDATE: On their new labour relations mini-site the Chronicle Herald explains the rationale for removing the “equal pay” clause from the union’s contract.
“While the clause was removed, it was replaced with even stronger language that reflects the laws of the province. What we have proposed is, in fact, more inclusive than what the union has called for. Rather than simply extending our commitment to equal pay for equal work on the basis of gender, we have enshrined a commitment to uphold the entire Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, which ensures equality based on factors including, but not limited to: gender, age, race, colour, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, ethnicity, marital status, political belief or affiliation. We believe this is fairer, more complete language that prevents exclusion of any kind and we firmly stand behind this change.”
Happy International Women’s Day! Unless you're a striking Chronicle Herald employee, that is.
In a press release sent out Monday night–and in the spirit of International Women’s Day–the Halifax Typographical Union called on The Chronicle Herald to drop a controversial contract stipulation that proposes removing any references to pay equity from the contract of its striking news staff.
The section of the contract on the chopping block reads: "The company at all times recognizes the principle of equal pay for equal work for male and female employees, in keeping with the provisions of this collective agreement." [see update above]
Pay equity was one of the issues that led to the HTU’s formation in 1999. At the time, the HTU says some women in the newsroom were making half of what their male colleagues were, despite working in the same positions and holding comparable qualification.
Fifty-nine Herald reporters, editors, photographers and support staff have been on the picket line for nearly seven weeks. After Herald management dismissed staff’s offers to take a five percent wage cut to remain on the job, the union called a defensive strike on January 23. The company’s proposed strategy calls for 30 percent of newsroom staff to be laid off and reduced benefits, longer hours and frozen pensions for those who remain.
"This company wants to roll back the clock to a time when newsroom employees had no say," HTU president Ingrid Bulmer said of the proposed contract change. "Nova Scotians need to realize that we need a strong union in the newsroom, not only to prevent the exploitation of women, but so reporters can do independent journalism without getting fired because they are upsetting advertisers or the government.”
Women working in journalism face a lot of barriers–discrimination, gendered pay gaps and hate mail aren’t unusual on the job. Just this week, the Ryerson Review of Journalism launched the #WhyDiversity campaign, designed to examine the systemic failings of the journalism industry that keep women and minorities out of mastheads.
Today's release is especially ironic, as International Women's Day was born in 1908 after 15,000 women demonstrated in New York City calling for better pay and shorter working hours.