Staff from reader services and sales and in-house printing cut in “local initiative”

Three staff are being laid off at Postmedia’s Ottawa Citizen, according to a Tuesday press release from its union chapter, the Ottawa Newspaper Guild.

Among those affected is ONG President Debbie Cole, a data analyst at the Ottawa Citizen in the Reader Sales and Service department. She has worked there since 1977, when she started as a temp, and has been involved in ONG for many years, serving as president since 2011.

“This was a local initiative with respect to workflow changes at The Citizen,” Postmedia communications vice-president Phyllise Gelfand told J-Source in an email.

The newspaper laid off an additional member of the RSS department and another in in-house printing. This will leave RSS with only three country-district supervisors, and only one person managing in-house printing, according to the CWA statement. They will be receiving official notice in early March.

“We shouldn’t be surprised,” said Cole in the press release. “The building has been sold to a realty company.” Part of the building is still being leased by Postmedia, where the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun will be produced. The two newsrooms were merged in 2016, after a round of layoffs that left 90 people without  jobs.

The number of employees has been decreasing steadily over the years — in 2013, before the two newsrooms were merged, the Citizen had 110 union members, almost half of the 201 it had in 2008. After these layoffs, there will be 56 members left in both newsrooms.

Between 2010 and 2015, Postmedia went from having 5,400 employees to 2,500, notes CWA’s statement. The number increased in 2016 to 4,800 after they purchased Quebecor’s Sun Media chain. However, by June 2018, the company had announced another round of layoffs to cut down salary costs by 10 per cent, leaving their employee count at 3,300.