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TVO Negotiations ? The issues and why they matter

By now you’re aware that negotiations for a new contract with TVO are not going well. We, too, are very disappointed, as we had hoped we were entering a new era with the employer. We’ve listened carefully to the messages coming from senior management about the type of relationship they seek as part of the new strategic agenda. We’ve heard words such as collaboration with and commitment to employees. We’ve heard phrases about our collective wisdom and the need to share knowledge. So it comes as a shock when the message is very different at the bargaining table. Not only have they flatly rejected our proposal on consultation, they have not offered any alternative. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away.

Why are we in this situation, and what is keeping us apart?

Fundamentally, consultation is a job security issue. It’s about careers, futures and income. We simply cannot wait until all decisions are made and imposed before having some meaningful discussion with the employer. True consultation would allow us to examine potential impacts of organizational change on members ? such as possible layoffs, offers of severance packages, assignments, training and re-skilling needs ? before decisions are made and/or simply announced. It also allows the employer the chance to gain from the knowledge and experience of its employees. Such formal consultation is a part of many, many successful organizations.

TVO is going through significant changes, both in terms of the service it offers to Ontarians and in terms of its adoption of new technologies. The pace of change is quick and the need for employees to appreciate the nature, need and demands of such change are as great as they’ve ever been. Many of you will recall the anxiety and uncertainty when the last set of major initiatives was rolled out. CMG and its members were not included in any meaningful consultation, in fact many did not know what programs they would be working on or what work they would be doing when the next broadcast season began.

We think this is a lousy business practice because it excludes ideas and concerns from being heard. It also severely limits our ability to exercise other rights under the collective agreement.

We hear from the employer that our proposal on New Work Methods and Practices would somehow limit its ability to manage. To be clear, there is nothing in the proposal that prevents or limits management’s decision-making abilities. It simply requires a sharing of information prior to final decisions being made. The identical language exists in the CMG contract with CBC. Some 5,000 Guild members work for CBC in radio, television, new media, as on-air people, technicians and administrators. The issues are just as complex there. Yet the language has worked.

Other issues

While the need for a formal consultation process has dominated the agenda lately, other issues remain outstanding. These include a new deal on staff reduction language that would allow employees the greatest possible opportunity to continue their careers with TVO during a downsizing, and is fair to employees in terms of recognizing their investment in the organization and their skills.

While we’ve made some progress in our discussions about work-life balance, we need to reach an agreement that recognizes the unique needs of employees to match the demands of work with the demands of home.

We need a process to examine job descriptions to ensure they reflect current realities and coming challenges.

We also need to achieve a fair economic increase that meets inflation and provides a “real” wage increase.

We have already agreed to meet with the employer to discuss potential jurisdictional problems as work evolves. We’ve agreed to new conflict of interest rules to make them consistent with other provincial employers.

The conciliator is helping seek solutions to the remaining impasse. He will continue to keep communications lines open between the parties. We are open to meeting management and we remain hopeful and committed to advancing positive proposals aimed at achieving a fair agreement.

The conciliator has asked the parties to meet on May 8th. We will be holding a general membership meeting at the end of that day. Stay tuned for details.

Your Bargaining Committee,

David Hawkins 2753
George Pyron 2494
Carol Burtin Fripp cbfripp@rogers.com
Dan Oldfield, dan@cmg.ca

Canadian Media Guild
La Guilde canadienne des m?dias
310 Front Street West, Suite 810, Toronto, ON M5V 3B5
310, rue Front ouest, bureau 810, Toronto, ON M5V 3B5
(416) 591-5333 1-800-465-4149

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