torstar head david galloway
said all the right things at the publishing giant's annual shareholders meeting last week about putting a quick end to the month-long strike at Sing Tao, the Toronto Star's Chinese-language daily.
But Galloway may have been talking out of both sides of his mouth. While he painted a rosy picture for shareholders of the two sides talking and the end being near, the fact is that the Star is fighting a move by the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild (SONG) to go to arbitration.
Galloway did not respond to NOW's request for comment. But Andrew Go, head of the Torstar business ventures division that includes Sing Tao (and the non-union eye Weekly), says Galloway simply misspoke. He confirms that there are no immediate plans to get back to the bargaining table.
Go adds that Sing Tao's seeming reluctance to return to bargaining has nothing to do with sending a signal to shareholders that Torstar is intent on propping up the newspaper division's flagging financial fortunes.
SONG president John Deverell speculates that Torstar, fresh from breaking the carriers union, has similar plans for Sing Tao staff, who are fighting for wages and working conditions on a par with workers at Torstar's Metroland chain. Editorial workers at Sing Tao earn about $100 a week less than their Metroland counterparts.
About 30 of the 110 workers at Sing Tao have crossed the picket line. This week SONG began a campaign to pressure the paper's advertisers not to buy ads that the union says support a "sweatshop" operation.
The buzz on Bay Street, meanwhile, is that Torstar, whose newspaper division lost money last year, is looking to sell the flagship Star. A VP for Rogers Communications, confirms that the telecommunications giant approached the Star's board of directors about buying. But she says there are no such plans in the offing.