TVO employees, unionized under the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), have voted 100% in support of a strike mandate.
The collective agreement governing journalists, producers and education workers at the provincial broadcaster expired last October. CMG says its TVO members have received below-inflation wage increases for the past 10 years with salaries below the industry standard, including three years of wage freezes at a time when the cost of living has skyrocketed, pushing several employees out of Toronto where the broadcaster is based.
The salaries of members were subject to Bill 124, which was ruled unconstitutional in November and is now being appealed by the province. Since 2019, TVO has been operating under a 5% decrease in base funding.
The union says workers are also disheartened by a move away from permanent employment toward hiring for contract positions with no benefits.
“New employees are hired on contract and have been blocked from being converted to staff even after working at TVO for several years (with no shortage of work to do),” CMG stated in a press release issued Tuesday. “For instance, TVO hired dozens of people during the pandemic to bring Ontario’s curriculum online. Most of those workers were unceremoniously let go after about a year. Some were then rehired after a break in employment and now TVO is asking the union to sign a waiver to let the employer keep these workers permanently on contract.”
CMG says TVO employees are also concerned about Ontario Education Min. Stephen Lecce’s recent letter of direction to TVO, which omits any reference to journalism or current affairs. The union says that change is reflected in TVO’s business plan, which includes new brand architecture aimed at shifting the perception of TVO from its legacy as a “public broadcaster” to a digital media and learning organization.
“While we understand the provincial government might not always enjoy the political coverage it receives, we hope it understands the important role journalism has played at TVO, especially at a time of massive disruption to the private-sector ad-based model of journalism, which has been thoroughly undermined by large American social media companies,” the union stated.
TVO workers are seeking improvements, including wages reflecting industry standards and inflation, especially for those in lower classifications; permanent jobs for permanent work, and a move away from reliance on precarious workers; and a commitment to quality journalism at TVO going forward.
The turnout for the vote was 96% with 100% supporting the strike mandate.
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