Dozens of workers at Ontario’s public broadcaster will return to their jobs Monday after voting this weekend to accept a new collective agreement and end a strike that’s stretched on for nearly three months.
TVO says the accepted offer includes a wage increase of 7.7 per cent over three years – three per cent retroactive to 2022, 2.75 per cent in 2023 and 1.75 per cent in 2024.
“Everyone at TVO is looking forward to having our team at full strength once again and focusing our efforts on delivering the important educational content and current affairs journalism TVO is known for,” CEO Jeffrey Orridge said in a news release.
The employer said TVO also withdrew various proposals that would have extended employment contracts beyond two years and the new deal increases access to job opportunities for production staff.
Meredith Martin, president of the TVO branch of Canadian Media Guild, the union which represents around 70 journalists, producers and education workers at the broadcaster, would not provide the percentage of its membership that voted for the latest offer but said it passed with a clear majority.
“Although we acknowledge this is not what we were hoping for, all the members of the bargaining team feel this is the best we can get at this time, given that we are a 74-member branch up against an employer that was aiming for major concessions,” she wrote in an e-mail to union members Friday.
TVO workers have been on strike for 11 weeks after walking off the job on Aug. 21, more than three days after a strike deadline ran out amid negotiations.
The Canadian Media Guild had said its main sticking points in bargaining were below-inflation wages and temporary contract work.
In early October, at roughly the six-week mark in the job action, workers voted to reject what the company’s management said was its “final” offer, which included the same wage increase. The union said the wages on offer were well below what’s needed for workers to catch up to inflation, and had previously said temporary contract work was also a sticking point.
Members have received below-inflation wage increases for the past 10 years, including three years of complete wage freezes, the guild said.
The new deal also includes voluntary buyout packages for members under the collective agreement, which Martin said has “high monetary value” and would not have been gained had the union not remained on strike, as well as a $500 annual training budget per employee that serves as “an acknowledgment of the hard work” done since shooting down TVO’s previous offer.
Some employees at TVO are represented by Unifor and are not part of the current bargaining process. The Canadian Media Guild also represents some employees at The Canadian Press.
TVO airs current affairs shows including “The Agenda with Steve Paikin,” but also has a mandate to provide learning resources that follow the provincial school curriculum.