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Open letter to members from CMG President Lise Lareau

Dear members and colleagues:

So it’s come to this.

CBC’s managers are shutting the doors and locking us out of the places where we have devoted so many hours working, reporting, producing, shooting, hosting and creating CBC programming. It seems unthinkable, unnecessary, wasteful.

More than that, this is an aggressive move by any standard. I would call it un-Canadian for a major national employer, a public broadcaster no less, to be locking the door on 5,500 professionals. In retrospect, it would seem that plans were in place to do this all along. It explains the absolute wall that our bargaining committee faced, day after day, on major issues.

This is the work of a small group of senior managers, led by VP of Human Resources George Smith. There have already been five work stoppages at the CBC by various unions in just under seven years. This is the third lockout. During most of that time, Robert Rabinovitch has been president. This is a legacy that we hope will not go unnoticed in Ottawa.

Under their leadership, the management bargaining committee demanded untenable concessions, overwhelming changes to the way work is done at the CBC. They wanted a workforce that would, over time, become mostly temporary. All in the same of an ill-defined sense of efficiency and “flexibility”. But, in fact, what they seem to want does not exist at any other major broadcaster in this country.

This fight is about an agenda driven by senior managers who are not rooted in the values of public broadcasting. Their focus is on appearing to be efficient to themselves and to another small group of Ottawa bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, the people who actually do the programming and our audiences ? in television, radio and online ? will suffer. That’s what makes it all so sad.

But we must not get disheartened. We are on the side of reason. Now that we are locked out, we have to rally together to be strong voices for the defense of public broadcasting. We have to make Canadians, who own the CBC collectively, understand and join our fight for the concept of real careers in this industry.

Lise Lareau
National President
Canadian Media Guild

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