The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Media Guild are now hammering out details of a proposal to get workers back on the job this week after a seven-week lockout.
The two sides met briefly with federal Labour Minister Joe Fontana Monday (Oct. 4) for a brief meeting after an agreement in principle was struck to resolve the dispute. The new contract will run to March 31, 2009.
The CBC locked out 5,500 members of the CMG Aug. 15 after negotiations on a new collective agreement broke down. The CMG represents on-air, production, technical and administrative staff outside of Quebec.
The CBC had faced a serious deadline this week when the National Hockey League returns from its lost season. Unless the dispute was settled by Oct. 8, when the Montreal Canadians visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for CBC’s first scheduled telecast, the show would have been produced by CBC management-meaning no play-by-play or unionized voices.
CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald indicated that the broadcaster is hopeful that TV and radio staff will be able to return within days. “We want people coming back this week and programming returning to normal this week,” he said.
Canada’s musical artists, writers and actors greatly depend on the CBC for promotion of their latest creative works. Regionally, there are only a handful of community and college radio stations as outlets. Labels, with blues, folk, roots and classical acts, were forced to shift their promotional efforts to print and college radio.
Key to the pact was that management agreed to cap the number of fixed-term contract workers employed at CBC at 9.5 per cent of the full-time work force.
The future role of contract workers within the corporation had been a sticking negotiating point throughout the dispute. Also under the proposal, wages will increase by 12.6 per cent over the life of the contract.