Unionized workers at Ontario’s public broadcaster have voted in favour of a strike if ongoing labour talks stall, moving one step closer to a legal strike position.
The collective agreement between TVO and 70 of its journalists, producers and education workers expired in October 2022.
The Canadian Media Guild says members have received below-inflation wage increases for the past 10 years, including three years of complete wage freezes. They’re also concerned by what they say is an apparent move to hire new employees on contract.
In addition to airing current affairs shows such as “The Agenda with Steve Paikin,” TVO’s mandate is to provide learning resources that follow the provincial school curriculum.
The union says a letter earlier this year from Ontario’s Ministry of Education outlined priorities for TVO but was scant on references to journalism. The union also alleges the network’s business plan made “no mention” of journalism.
However, a spokesperson for the ministry says the priorities in the letter have not changed from previous years. Meanwhile, TVO is calling it “highly misleading and just plain wrong” to suggest it has reduced its commitment to journalism.
“In fact, that commitment has grown dramatically in the past few years – including new podcasts, video series, live events, new beats, ‘The Thread with Nam Kiwanuka,’ among other initiatives – and is clearly embedded in our strategic plan,” said Julia Vrabec, TVO’s Vice President, People and Culture, said in a statement posted Tuesday to the network’s website.
The next bargaining meeting is scheduled for March 9.
Some of the broadcaster’s employees are under Unifor and are not impacted by ongoing negotiations.
The Canadian Media Guild also represents some employees at The Canadian Press.