The Canadian federal government is appointing a special mediator to restart negotiations between the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and its locked-out unionized workers, union officials said Aug. 24.


TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The Canadian federal government is appointing a special mediator to restart negotiations between the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and its locked-out unionized workers, union officials said Aug. 24.

Arnold Amber, president of the CBC branch of the Canadian Media Guild, said federal labor minister Joe Fontana has agreed to intervene in the 10-day labor stoppage at Canada's public broadcaster by getting both sides talking again.

"We're under way, but we're not there yet," Amber said.

CBC management locked out about 5,500 unionized workers aligned with the CMG on Aug. 15 as talks on a new collective agreement stalled over the growing use of contract workers at the public broadcaster.

The continuing disruption in normal programming at the CBC has prompted Canadian artists to complain that their upcoming work will be in jeopardy if they receive no promotion from CBC on-air talent now facing an indefinite management lockout.

The Writers Guild of Canada complained Aug. 24 that the upcoming CBC fall 2005 schedule might fail to secure audiences if a prolonged labor dispute leads to a lack of promotion on the public broadcaster's radio and TV networks.

"The timing really couldn't be worse," WGC executive director Maureen Parker said.

"It's a struggle for Canadian programming to reach audiences at the best of times, and this lockout comes at a critical promotional period when all the other broadcasters are launching their fall lineups," she said.

Parker urged the federal government to quickly appoint a special mediator to end the labor dispute.

"There is no time to waste. All Canadians are being hurt by this lockout," she said.

The CMG represents about 5,500 CBC producers, directors, technicians, on-air talent and other behind-the-scenes staff.

Representatives of CBC management were not available for comment at press time.


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