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CMG will challenge further contracting out at CBC

The Canadian Media Guild is questioning what the CBC is calling the sale of its international sales operation. The union has been told that 11 employees will be given redundancy notices this month as rights for international sales of 135 TV shows have been sold to Fireworks International, which is a division of U.K.-based distributor ContentFilm. The list includes current shows Heartland and The Border.

The Guild believes that CBC has actually contracted out the work of international sales employees without following collective agreement provisions or Corporation policies on procurement of services. The union was never consulted on the plan and never had an opportunity to examine the business case or to propose alternatives to sending the work outside.

The Guild is equally troubled by media reports that the public broadcaster did the deal without a public process and apparently without properly informing the CBC board, shortly before the start of the new president’s term.

“These programs belong to Canadians and we think it’s important that their future be properly entrusted,” says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the CBC branch of the CMG. “It’s hard to be confident of that when there is so little information and an apparent lack of a proper public process.”

Redundancy notices have not yet been issued to employees in the international sales department. If and when they are, the Guild will ensure that the rights of affected members are protected, up to and including filing a grievance on the improper process followed by CBC management.

Part of a troubling trend
Meanwhile, the same department that handled the sale of the TV rights ? known as “digital programming and business development” ? is also contemplating contracting out the handling of comments sent by visitors to cbc.ca. The Guild has suggested to CBC management that existing and new employees could be trained to do this work. We await a response from the Corporation by the end of February.

The CMG is also in the midst of an arbitration relating to the contracting out of CBC’s publicity function in 2005. The Guild is arguing that CBC did not have a proper business case when it contracted with Media Profile and other companies to promote CBC programming. A total of 31 employees were affected. That hearing continues next week.

“We do not support the selling off of CBC in small pieces,” Laurin says. “Our members are committed to serving the Canadian public. They provide the best value for the money that Canadians provide to the CBC through their taxes and cable fees.”

For more information, contact the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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