CBC workers who are represented by CWA Canada through its largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), have voted 80 per cent in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement with the public broadcaster.
The five-year deal contains wage increases of 1.5 per cent this year and next for the 4,300 employees across the country (outside Quebec and Moncton, N.B.) who are covered by the contract. Increases in the final three years of the agreement will be pegged to the Treasury Board rate that applies to unionized federal government employees.
More than 1,200 CMG members took part this week in online voting on the tentative agreement, which comes into effect on April 1. Official results released today show 977 in favour and 241 against.
Jonathan Spence, president of the Guild’s CBC branch, said there are several improvements with this deal. These include allowances for members in Canada’s North and those who do out-of-country work; relocation subsidies; and better terms for temporary workers to convert to permanent status.
“We’ve spent the better part of six months bargaining this agreement,” said Spence. “There was a lot to update in an agreement that had not changed substantially in the last 10 years, in an industry that has significantly shifted.”
CMG President Kamala Rao said, “Our bargaining team brought a great deal of goodwill and focus to the table. Members at CBC/Radio-Canada believe in the value of our work at the public broadcaster and we’ve succeeded in raising the floor for everyone who works there.”
CBC staff who work in Northern and isolated locations will see significant gains in their paycheques — in some cases as much as $20,000 annually — as a special allowance moves from 40 to 100 per cent of the rate paid to federal employees.
Spence said this amounts to $1 million in new spending by the CBC and represents a “real commitment … to improving working conditions in the North.”
Many years of a stagnant allowance meant CMG members were struggling with basic costs like housing and food. The beefed-up pay is expected to also improve employee retention and, in turn, help with workload issues.
Another area in which the CMG made significant strides involves temporary employment and precarious work.
The agreement includes a commitment to create 41 new permanent jobs, which will be distributed across the country and concentrated in news, radio and regional stations. Some of those new jobs will be as a result of conversion from temporary to permanent status.
The team also negotiated freelance rate increases in line with the across-the-board wage increases for other members. In addition, there will now be more clarity to distinguish between the various types of freelance engagements.
Other provisions of the agreement include:
- For the first time, members will have access to a new program of conditions when they take a position outside of Canada. It also applies to foreign correspondents.
- There is now a fair and transparent approach to covering the costs of moving when members are asked to relocate within CBC/SRC.
- Employees will not be required to use their own phones or tablets to perform work. If a mobile device is needed to do the job, it will be provided.
- Confirmation that CBC employees are entitled to credit for their work, on every platform, where feasible and reasonable to provide it.
- Union and management will conduct a joint review of compensation for maintenance and IT workers. There could be adjustments if it’s determined they are paid less than market rates.
A joint union-management committee is to meet this spring to review pension and benefit plans, which cover all CBC employees. Up for renewal is a 10-year-old agreement on pension surplus sharing and a benefits fund that expires in 2019.