Postmedia is laying off 54 employees at the Vancouver Sun and Province

Canada's Postmedia company is laying off more than 50 employees at The Vancouver Sun and Province after a months-long buyout process aimed at cutting the company's payroll.

Fifty-four union employees are being laid off as of April 8, according to a memo from Brian Norris, the director of human resources for the The Vancouver Sun and Province. The company is asking for volunteers, who will each receive two weeks of pay per year of service up to 52 weeks.

The lay-offs will likely impact all departments at PNG. The company has identified specific classifications from which lay-offs are expected to take place. However, we are open to considering volunteers from classifications not listed provided operational requirements can be met.

Today's layoffs follow Postmedia's October announcement that it was offering buyouts to 4,200 employees across the company with a goal of reducing payroll by 20 percent.

"This is further to Postmedia’s previously announced salary cost reduction initiative," Phyllise Gelfand, a spokesperson for Postmedia, told Poynter. "We have completed the voluntary buyout process and this represents layoffs in our Vancouver operations."

In addition to The Vancouver Sun and Province, Postmedia publishes the National Post, The Toronto Sun, The Edmonton Journal and The Montreal Gazette.

The cuts at Postmedia do not augur well for the fate of Canadian print media writ large. In 2015, industry analyst Ken Goldstein predicted that there would be "few, if any," printed daily newspapers in Canada by 2025.

Here's the memo announcing the layoffs:

This communication is intended to update you on the status of Postmedia's efforts to address its continuing economic challenges. The financial pressures facing the company particularly in light of its significant revenue decline are well known to all of us as this information is communicated each quarter when our financial results are made public.

When the Voluntary Staff Reduction Plan was announced in December, it was made clear that this would be the last time that the VSRP would be implemented. We have completed that final VSRP and all of the voluntary departures have taken place.

We are now implementing the second stage of our salary reduction initiative and have today provided the union with notice of lay-off for reasons of economy under the collective agreement.

The collective agreement requires a one month notice and consultation process during which the parties discuss the lay-offs and related issues. That process will commence as quickly as possible.

Two weeks before the end of the notice period, individual lay-off notices to employees will be issued on or about March 24th and the bumping process will begin.

Lay-offs will be effective on or about April 8th, 2017.

Under the collective agreement, employees have the opportunity to volunteer to terminate in place of their colleagues who would otherwise be laid-off.

If you choose to volunteer, the following will apply:

-You will receive lay-off severance of 2 weeks pay per year of service to a maximum of 52 weeks pay.

-The severance will be paid in a lump sum on the next regular payroll following the effective date of your termination.

-Your employment will be terminated and you will give up recall and grievance rights.

The number of lay-offs that the company has identified in its notice of lay-off is 54. The lay-offs will likely impact all departments at PNG. The company has identified specific classifications from which lay-offs are expected to take place. However, we are open to considering volunteers from classifications not listed provided operational requirements can be met.

Instructions will be sent out shortly by PNG Human Resources on how to apply to be considered for voluntary lay-off.

We realize that these time frames although consistent with the collective agreement are relatively short. However, it is important that we finalize the process as quickly as possible so that we can reduce further disruption to the business and focus on the needs of the operation going forward.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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