Production employees at TVO represented by the Canadian Media Guild have given their union a strike mandate over the employer’s refusal to consult about significant changes at the broadcaster. The dispute follows several years of show cancellations, layoffs and staff resignations and coincides with a shift in priorities away from original television production in favour of online programming.
“Change is a part of life for media employees,” says Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG. “But talk to us about it, listen to our views and let us help make the changes work for Ontarians.”
Since 2005, four TVO shows have been cancelled and only one has been replaced. The cuts have eliminated regular coverage of the arts and field production from communities across Ontario. As well, the provincial broadcaster recently lost its correspondent at Queen’s Park and apparently has no plans for a replacement.
“It’s deeply unsettling to employees and to the public when big changes appear to come out of the blue and are not well explained or implemented,” Lareau adds. “Our members want to be part of a bright future for the provincial broadcaster and, with the loss of local media across the province, its role could be more vital than ever.”
TVO and CMG will meet again with a provincial conciliator on April 10. Both sides have agreed not to take steps toward strike or lockout action before then.