Journalists and producers entering their seventh week of strike action at TVO have voted to reject the Ontario public broadcaster’s so-called “final offer.”
The offer included a 7.7% wage increase over three years, including 3.0% in the first year, a 2.75% increase in year two, and a 1.75% increase in the final year.
TVO says the offer would have brought the average salary for a unionized employee with more than five years of service (excluding The Agenda host Steve Paikin) to approximately $89,000, with Canadian Media Guild (CMG) members in their first five years of employment with TVO continuing to be eligible for annual “step” increases, which the broadcaster says average 4.3% per year, on top of the proposed annual wage hike. All wage increases would be retroactive to Oct. 28, 2022, when the last collective agreement expired.
The offer additionally retains language around contract employees, with no waivers for allowing contract extensions beyond two years. TVO also committed to providing a training program to give CMG production employees in the ‘Producer/Director 1’ classification an opportunity to learn the core skillset that would qualify them for employment in the ‘Digital Media Producer 1’ classification.
Two views of the picket line.
1: Poised, determined, united. pic.twitter.com/IBe47k9tQY
— TVO CMG is on strike (@TVO_CMG) September 27, 2023
Union leaders said in a statement Monday that the offer still amounts to a wage cut after inflation.
“Our members have spoken: three more years of losing wages to inflation after a decade of real wage cuts is not acceptable,” said Annick R. Forest, CMG President, and Meredith Martin CMG-TVO Branch President. “TVO still refuses to offer a wage increase that acknowledges the current economic environment — the real wage cuts it has asked employees to accept for a decade — or that their employees deserve compensation for being held under the unconstitutional Bill 124.”
Forest and Martin said it appears that binding arbitration is the only path forward to end the job dispute.
“If TVO management continues to refuse to treat its employees fairly, the Minister of Education or Premier Doug Ford should step in and force them to accept binding arbitration, where a neutral third party can decide what’s fair to both parties.”
TVO CEO Jeffrey Orridge said Friday that the broadcaster’s offer was “fair and reasonable.”
“Our CMG team does outstanding work, and this offer provides them with compensation, job security and benefits that are among the best in the business,” said Orridge. “It’s an offer that respects both the professional work they do and our duty as a non-profit social impact agency to be responsible with the funds we manage.”
The 74 TVO employees represented by CMG began legal strike action on Aug. 21.
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