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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

sore feet

I picketed ten hours yesterday. Signed in at 11:45 on Wellington, then picketed counterclockwise around the building. My first conversation revealed how much my cold had taken out of me. I met this fellow and said, "Hey, I haven't seen you in twenty years! You're so and so, aren't you?" He said, "No, I'm whatisname, and we met just the other day." D'oh.

But that's what the first day of picketing is all about, catching up with people you haven't seen in a long while, perhaps since the last labour dispute. Cause these labour disputes seem to be happening more and more at the corporation. Part and parcel of working there. They should tell you when you first join: You'll be making x amount of money, you'll get x amount of vacation, and oh yeah, expect to be on strike or locked out say, every two to three years.

Picked up a lot of rumour and innuendo on the line. People hold Richard Stursberg and George Smith and Robert Rabinovith responsible.. One union rep told me that he feels that this cabal isn't actually getting their jollies out of locking us out, they happen to think it's the right thing to do, given the dwindling allocation from Ottawa and the impact that inflation is having on the Corp. They actually think that contract workers and more flexibility is going to save them.

They're wrong, of course. Apparently Stursberg came from Telefilm Canada, where they tried the contract worker model, discovered it didn't work, and are now reverting back to a more permanent workforce, or would like to. Same with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (I don't know anyone who works at either place, so it's hearsay... be nice if someone could confirm it for me.)

One woman on the line presented me with a rather outrageous conspiracy theory, which I only present here so that it can be quickly shot down, allowing us to move onto firmer ground. According to her (and she seemed quite upset) the union is in cahoots with management. They've worked out an agreement to be locked out for x amount of time to save the CBC money in wages, in return for concessions at the negotiating table when we return. Shades of On the Waterfront. I don't think so.

A lot of people on the line seem to think that it's all about money. That they've locked us out to save dough in wages, perhaps to make up for what they lost during the NHL lockout last year. I can't believe that that's the whole story. I'd like to know how this lockout is affecting advertising revenue.

Speaking of the NHL, some people think they will take their wares elsewhere, as they can't risk screwing up this season. If that happens, the CBC will be screwed, and us along with it. Other folks believe that this will be wrapped up about October 1st, just in time for the CBC to get ready for the NHL broadcasts.

The mood was pretty good on the line, although the Guild has a few kinks to work out. They could have used more food on the line, and the sign up sheets were handled badly, getting people to sign out and back in at 6pm. What with the amount of people on the line just then, that just created chaos. But they will get their act together, just like CEP did the last two times. There's no substitute for experience.

Now if only Stursberg, Rabinovich and Smith believed that.


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