Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ottawa

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ottawa

December 11, 2009 06:00 ET

A Video Documentary on the 16 Month Lockout at Journal de Quebec

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 11, 2009) - One year ago on December 12, 2008, the Commission des relations du travail du Quebec (CRT) ruled that Quebecor/Sun Media had used illegal workers during the 16 month lockout at Journal de Quebec, the longest labour dispute in the history of any Canadian French-language daily. One year later, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has released a 23 minute documentary on the conflict.

Directed by Ian Morin and titled Journal de Quebec, a long dispute, the documentary gives voice to key union figures, locked out workers, and everyday citizens of Quebec City.

The documentary is available in high-definition in either French or English-language versions, with a running time of 23 minutes as well as a six minute summary. The full version can be viewed online at as of December 11.

The documentary recounts the story of 252 Quebec City newspaper employees and how they changed the way labour disputes are conducted, with the publication and distribution of an alternate daily paper supplanting traditional picket lines.

Journal de Quebec, a long dispute reminds the viewer that the organization of the union counterattack was clandestine at first, using the code name "Langouste" ("lobster"). The alternate publication began as an idea from photographer Rene Baillargeon: start Quebec City's first free daily as a way to pressure the company. And thus MediaMatinQuebec was born.

"Instead of 252 people on a picket line, we had 40,000 new 'pickets' five times a week," said Claude Genereux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer, describing the strategic value of MediaMatin's 40,000-copy daily run.

The video also tells a love story in the form of daily encounters between the locked-out paper peddlers and their readers on the Quebec City streets. The chemistry was real. "One reader often made cookies for us, and she even brought us the recipe," said Rollande Roy, Journal de Quebec receptionist.

And it's also the story of a one-on-one with Pierre Karl Peladeau, head of Quebecor, who bluntly admits to a journalist that "the conflict has gone on long enough"-only to then ask him "...and for whom do you work for, sir?" The response, from locked out journalist Alain Bergeron: "MediaMatinQuebec."

Documentary interviews were filmed in April 2009. Production was funded by CUPE, the largest union in Canada, with 600,000 members.

Contact Information

  • Robert Bellerose
    CUPE Communications