TVO workers on strike in Toronto on August 21, 2023
TVO workers on strike in Toronto on August 21, 2023 (TVO-CMG)

TVO members begin strike today

Jeanne d’Arc Umurungi
Communications Director, CMG

The Canadian Media Guild announced that TVO workers walked off the job today on a legal strike. “We are deeply saddened to have not been able to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with our employer,” CMG said in a statement. Annick Forest, President of the Canadian Media Guild and Meredith Martin CMG-TVO branch President are available to comment.

Workers feel they are being forced to take job action that will interrupt services the public relies on, such as The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO Today’s Ontario-focused journalism, children’s programming, and online courses used by teachers in schools across the province.

While we have been negotiating in good faith with the employer for a fair agreement, we are unable to make progress at the bargaining table for two main reasons:

1.  Ontario’s Ministry of Education has given the order to create only temporary contract jobs at TVO, even if the work is permanent in nature. As a result, the employer wants education workers to accept perpetual contracts and forego permanent employment. We have been told that if we do not agree to this concession, we cannot get a deal. These are public sector jobs that the government is trying to turn into gig work and CMG members at TVO cannot abide it.

TVO workers do not agree that employees should be placed in a precarious situation based on an arbitrary order from the Ministry of Education. CMG members at TVO have previously negotiated language to allow the employer to trial new positions for two years before making them permanent. We feel that the timeline is respectful of workers by giving them a path to stability while providing TVO with a more-than-fair amount of flexibility.

By keeping workers in precarious contracts, TVO is denying workers health benefits, dismantling job security, and impairing the stability needed to deliver strong public services for all Ontarians.

In bargaining, after the union refused to sign a waiver entrenching precarious jobs, a threat was made to cut jobs from TVOKids and The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

2.  The offer of 2.75%, 2.5%, and 1.75% increases over three years with a potential 1.75% raise for a fourth year is well below the wage improvements workers need during an affordability crisis. It also comes after below-inflation increases since 2012, including three years of zero increases from 2012-2014. Moreover, this offer is well below the increases obtained in the latest noteworthy education, energy and health care Provincial settlements. Our members refuse to be professionally devalued by the Government of Ontario.

These workers deserve meaningful increases after being forced to take a real wage cut due to the 1% limit imposed by Bill 124 (now deemed unconstitutional). They also deserve no less than the raises their public sector colleagues have recently obtained.

The TVO workers believe it is time to stand strong. Their fight is the fight of all Ontarians who are currently struggling to afford basic necessities such as food and housing. We call upon the Government of Ontario to withdraw these waiver demands and to grant the workers of TVO a fair wage increase so they can afford to live in the city where they work.

CMG members at TVO are determined to do what it takes, including job action, to resolve these issues.

A number of Ontario labour leaders including Patti Coates and Janice Folk Dawson of the Ontario Federation of Labour have confirmed their attendance in a show of solidarity with the workers at TVO.