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Details emerging slowly re CBC/Radio-Canada job cuts

Subsequent to CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix’s presentation yesterday, Canadian Media Guild members are now beginning to learn how the Corp intends to take 800 jobs out of the workforce and where the cuts will be felt.

The cuts in French services were announced yesterday. The vast majority of the French-service cuts are concentrated in the province of Quebec and in Moncton, NB; about 18 Guild positions will be eliminated.

These are the cuts to French-language services:

– in Windsor, the radio morning show and Saturday show will be cancelled, to be replaced by regional inserts into Toronto programming
– overnight network programming currently produced out of Windsor, Edmonton and Vancouver will be eliminated
– regional radio noon shows will be replaced by a new national show – it’s not yet known where this program will originate
– on the TV side, the regional noon news program out of Ottawa will be cancelled
– the supper-hour regional T?l?journal program will be reduced from 60 minutes to 30 for the summer season
– the program Zeste will be put on hiatus

Staff in English services will be briefed on details over the course of today (Thursday). Guild leaders at all locations will be available to answer members’ questions about how the process will work over the coming months.

The most important thing to know is that no redundancy letters or layoff notices are being given out at this time. In fact, no notices will go out until May at the earliest. That’s because there are two important processes that have to be followed. First, the CBC is awaiting ministerial approval to implement a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program, or VRIP. If the program is approved as we expect, Guild members who have combined age plus years of service to a total of 85 or more (the “85 formula”), or who are aged 65 or over, will be eligible to apply for an additional financial incentive to retire. Those who are eligible according to CBC records will receive a letter automatically within the next couple of weeks, and will have approximately four weeks to decide whether to accept the incentive; if you’re interested, don’t hesitate to communicate with Human Resources or your location unit CMG president. The more people who choose to exit voluntarily, the fewer people will receive redundancy notices. We know that several hundred people meet the basic criteria for this program.

Secondly, the Guild is continuing to talk with the CBC to see whether there are other ways to reduce the number of involuntary layoffs. All of the CBC’s unions have discussed a variety of proposals to help reduce payroll costs, including things like voluntary leave without pay or other temporary measures. We are also pursuing discussions about re-training and other support programs.

The aim is to have all job reductions implemented by September.

The president of the Guild’s CBC branch, Marc-Philippe Laurin, said: “The next six months are going to be hard for all of us. It’s sad that we’ve come to expect layoffs as a way of life at CBC. We will need to help one another as we deal with some difficult decisions that cut to the very heart of what we do and who we are. It is also very disappointing that the Conservative government has let this happen at a time when our members and the public broadcaster are doing better than ever in every market across the country in providing valuable and informative programming to Canadians.”

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