Saturday, December 12, 2009

The London Free Press has December 2009 layoffs

I tried to Google the recent layoffs at The London Free Press in London, Ontario. No luck. I checked both The London Free Press site and the Canoe site; Nothing.

As I understand it, and this is just gossip, five in advertising have been pink slipped and as many as six may be leaving from editorial. The editorial staff members willing to accept a voluntary buyout have now submitted their names and the lucky winners of the buyout lottery will be announced early next week.

At one point it was thought that about twenty jobs in editorial would be lost. Word was that Sun Media / Quebecor wanted to gut the newsroom and move the work to the Barrie, Ontario, Centre of Excellence. Editor-in-chief Paul Berton, managing editor Joe Ruscitti and publisher Susan Muzak are credited by some staff for successfully lobbying against the suggested move.

As it is, I understand six pagination workers are being hired to assemble pages but without the editing responsibilities of the present staff. This will result in London losing some well-paid jobs and gaining a few poorly paid one -- it is rumored, the new jobs will pay possibly half of what the old positions paid. If these new workers get bumped up temporarily into a more traditional editing role, they would earn an acting pay premium of about $1.60 an hour. Sun Media / Quebecor gets a bargain both ways.

I understand that the Woodstock and St. Thomas papers are also being hit. How many other papers in the Sun Media chain are affected is still an open question. Maybe the Freeps will see fit to do an article on this latest round of layoffs by Canada's media giant, Sun Media / Quebecor.

This is worth a large, in-depth post. Someone should get the word out and possibly make the Freeps discuss openly their ongoing staffing cutbacks. I personally see more cutbacks in The Free Press future but that's just my guess.

I now have four names of editorial staff expected to leave. I also have four names from advertising. These changes at the London paper are no longer a rumour.


  1. I've heard you can add at least Simcoe and Brantford to the list too. Sad.

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  3. Correction: And yes, I know there are some typos in the above.

    It may only be three other ad staff plus a supervisor. Kathy Besley, Gail Higgins and the part-time receptionist Fran were all let go. (Not sure of the spelling of the three above names.)

  4. According to people who should know, Quebecor is in the process of moving a lot of the editing duties to the Barrie Centre of Excellence where excellence does not rate as much per hours as at the newspapers. (How long until Quebecor openly considers moving jobs to India?)

    It is another squeeze play on the middle class in Canada.

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  6. Anonymous said...

    So, whatever happened to this "scoop"?

    Answer: The story making the rounds in London is that LFP publisher Susan Muzak did fight for the editorial jobs (possibly even traveling to Montreal to make her case) and, to a certain extent, she won. Only two editors are going: Tom Bogart and Ralph Bridgland. One reporter is taking a buyout: Joe Matyas. And the chief photographer is also taking a buyout: Susan Bradnam. Jill Worthington in advertising, who the LFP special features work, is gone along with four others plus a supervisor who was walked out of the building.

    It seems that since the infamous 600-heads-roll Christmas in 2008, Quebecor has learned to let folk go in dribs and drabs and so attract less attention.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the editorial folk sit down to discuss a new contract. The big question is: Will there be a lockout or a strike?

    If you hear of anything at any other papers, I would love to hear about it, too, and blend the info into a blog on big companies and the damage they are inflicting on our country and our economy.