November 10, 2011 / 6:12 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toronto Star publisher offering staff buyouts

* Torstar to outsource layout, editing duties - sources

* No forced exits or targets - Torstar CFO

* Union seeks three weeks pay per year of service

By Natalie Armstrong

TORONTO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Torstar , the publisher of the Toronto Star, said on Thursday it is offering buyouts to editorial staff, though it would not confirm reports from three Star journalists that it also plans to outsource ad-building, layout and editing duties.

The Star, Canada’s biggest daily newspaper, wants to offer immediate layoff packages, reporter Richard Brennan wrote on his Twitter account.

A second source, who declined to be identified, said the newspaper was planning a “major trim” of staff to be completed by the end of the year.

The company confirmed the buyout offer, but stressed the voluntary nature of any exits and said it did not have a target for how many employees would take the offer.

“This is a voluntary program for anybody who’s wishing to exit on their own terms,” Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo DeMarchi told Reuters.

He declined to give a timeframe or terms for the offer, which has not yet been formally introduced, or to comment on outsourcing efforts, which he said were unrelated.

The Star had been set to outsource some of the jobs earlier but agreed to a union proposal that reduced its operating costs, said a third source, who also said the Star was moving to outsource jobs.

“If we lose too many people now, I fear for the paper we put out,” union representative Stuart Laidlaw said. “We’ve warned the company: you’re not just cutting fat any more.”

The company and union have been negotiating since late last week, with the union pushing for those who agree to leave to receive three weeks of pay per year of service, up to a maximum around 80 weeks, Laidlaw said.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, represents almost 500 Torstar employees, with around half of those in the newsroom.

The publisher of the Star, John Cruickshank, has called three town hall-style meetings to discuss the move with employees on Thursday and Friday.

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