Chronicle Herald strikers joined by Nova Scotia labour unions for rally

Organized labour is stepping up pressure on the Chronicle Herald during a rally Wednesday morning as a strike by the newspaper's 61 unionized employees nears the end of its sixth week.

'There's no way you're going to be out here without support,' says labour leader Tony Tracy

Members of the Halifax Typographical Union were joined by other labour union members in Nova Scotia during a rally in front of the Chronicle Herald office in Halifax on Wednesday. (CBC)

Organized labour unions in Nova Scotia are stepping up pressure on the Chronicle Herald as a strike by the newspaper's 61 employees nears the end of its sixth week.

Members of other unions joined a rally on the picket line Wednesday morning, including the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, the province's largest union.

"We in the labour movement rely on journalism," Joan Jessome told strikers. "We can't do our jobs; we can't deliver our services without you in the workplace."

Longshoremen, postal workers and other union representatives walked with the Herald employees this morning.

"There's no way you're going to be starved out on this picket line," Tony Tracy of the Canadian Labour Congress told strikers. "There's no way you're going to be out here without support."

New NDP leader speaks at rally

The newly elected leader of the provincial New Democratic Party also spoke at the rally. Gary Burrill said Nova Scotians will have to change their long-standing habit of starting their day by reading the Herald.

The NDP had earlier said it would not be giving interviews to Herald replacement workers during the strike.

The striking Herald workers have voiced radio commercials asking people to pressure the Herald by cancelling their subscriptions. The ads began airing today.

The labour leaders at the rally said they are organizing a boycott of the Herald and its advertisers. Some companies have cancelled their newspaper ads since the strike began. The unions are trying to pressure those companies still advertising to cancel their contracts as well.

'You can't just keep lying down'

"We've somewhat pulled our punches because we don't want to take action against the company to hurt their business," said Martin O'Hanlon, the national president of the Communications Workers of America.

"But at a certain point, you can't just keep lying down and getting kicked by these guys. We have to get a deal."

NSGEU president Joan Jessome says labour unions rely on journalism to function. (CBC)

CWA is the parent union of the Halifax Typographical Union, the union for the striking Herald workers.

O'Hanlon said there have been no talks since the strike began in January. He said the concessions being demanded by the Herald are more than the strikers can accept.

"Everything that they're asking for are the type of things you would expect if someone was trying to ready a paper for sale," O'Hanlon said. "Cut down on your labour costs, get rid of the pension, get rid of all the liabilities, severance."

There was a similar show of support by labour unions in Sydney on Wednesday. (George Mortimer/CBC)

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Blair Rhodes

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Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 34 years, the last 25 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety.

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