World Journalists Condemn “Strikebreaking” Use of Global Networks by Canadian Public Broadcaster

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional organization the European Federation of Journalists today gave their full backing to around 5,500 journalists and media staff locked out by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and has condemned the company’s use of global media networks – such as the BBC’s World Service Radio programmes – to fill gaps in its schedules. 

The IFJ and the EFJ have called on the European Broadcasting Union, which groups together some of the world’s largest public broadcasters, to ensure that none of its members do anything to assist the Canadian public broadcaster which shut out its union staff on August 15 talks on a new contract over the broadcaster's demand for the unfettered right to hire contract and part-time workers to take jobs now filled by staff employees. 

With everyone from journalists to technicians off the job, most of the original programming and news in particular, has ground to a halt with the radio and TV airwaves filled with repeats and imported content. The broadcaster is using scarce management resources to supply newscasts to Air Canada, but relying heavily on foreign news reports from the BBC for television news. 

“The use of one public broadcaster’s output to assist an attack by another on the careers and working conditions of its staff is strikebreaking of the worst kind,” said Aidan White, IFJ and EFJ General Secretary. “The company should get back to the negotiating table and not compromise the reputation of international public broadcasters by using them to fill the holes caused by their own belligerent attitudes to staff.” 

The IFJ and the EFJ have written to the EBU, saying the use of the BBC and perhaps other broadcasters, such as the English language service of German network Deutsche Welle, puts at risk the reputation of public broadcasters. 

“Public broadcasters must not allow themselves to be used in national disputes,” wrote Aidan White in a letter to Jean Réveillon, General Secretary of the EBU. “When the work of one broadcaster is used to assist another in their action against the workforce it is inevitably perceived as unacceptable interference and strike-breaking.” 

The IFJ and the EFJ have also asked all their members, and in particular the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland and its affiliates in Germany, to work together with its Canadian member, the Canadian Media Guild (TNG/CWA), to prevent broadcasts from global networks being used to make up for missing local content. 

Canadian Media Guild (CMG) negotiator and IFJ Executive Committee member, Arnold Amber said there are no talks underway. He said that a proposal to both parties by two federal mediators on Tuesday to break the deadlock was rejected by management. “On behalf of our 5,500 members, we strongly protest the position that the resumption of negotiations should be put off,” said Amber. 

Last week, union leaders noted that the CBC bargaining committee had said it would not compromise. The CMG said that “management refuses to move from its position to permit entire classifications of employees to be hired on short-term contracts. And it now refuses to bargain until the Guild agrees to that position — something the Guild has said repeatedly it will not do. 

Both the IFJ’s US affiliates, the Newspaper Guild/CWA and AFTRA, the performers and news union, backed the Media Guild and instructed its own members not to do any work that would undermine the CBC staff position. 

The IFJ is calling on all of its affiliates around the world to back the workforce at the CBC. “This dispute gets to the heart of the fight for public service values in broadcasting,” said White. “The priorities of the CBC management show little respect for professionalism and social justice in the workplace. It appears to favour a commitment to commercial interests rather than quality. A return to dialogue and meaningful negotiations is urgently needed.” 

To read the IFJ letter to EBU General Secretary Jean Réveillon click HERE

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 07 
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries