by Kevin Allman
Now here's a unique solution to the financial problems besetting the newspaper industry: just fire everyone and use unpaid "interns" instead. Don't forget to describe it as making "a small adjustment."
A Toronto free daily newspaper has laid off all of its staff writers but it won't be without copy for its pages because it will be using non-paid interns instead.
Metro, which has published in Toronto since 2000, terminated four unionized staff writers last week and two managers, citing economic reasons....
A few days before the layoffs, Metro management brought in the interns. The union representing the laid-off writers says the labour contract allows interns to stay in the event of layoffs; however, it has launched five grievances over this.
Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (which organized Metro's staff three years ago), told us: In this kind of environment, layoffs are inevitable. But we reject the notion they can fill jobs with interns hired three days beforehand.
Metro's group publisher for English Canada, Bill McDonald, says: We made a small adjustment to our staff. We're managing our business in these economic times.