1. Why are you filing an application to review the bargaining structure right now?
The broadcasting landscape in 2012 is no longer what it was in the early 1990s, nor what anyone could have anticipated as recently as the year 2000. CBC/Radio-Canada’s economic and technological environment has changed dramatically since the last bargaining structure review back in 1995.
There are many reasons behind this application:
- The complex, cumbersome organizational structure negatively affects the work environment and hinders the adoption of innovative solutions.
- The technological changes that have revolutionized content production and delivery methods have also fundamentally transformed the jobs of many employees.
- The public broadcaster is facing increased financial pressures resulting from the 2009 economic crisis and federal government cuts to its public funding in 2012.
- The market has become more competitive owing to the proliferation of specialty channels and the growth of conglomerates in the broadcasting and telecommunications industries.
- The public’s expectations have shifted. Our audiences have become used to having access to virtually instantaneous, multiplatform productions, and expect to receive content in near real-time on what’s happening around the world.
2. Why is this structure no longer adequate in 2012?
It’s a source of dissension and jurisdictional disputes among units and employees. It generates substantial numbers of grievances that monopolize time, energy and financial resources that could be better employed in programming. There are currently over 1,500 active grievances, including a considerable and growing number arising from jurisdictional disputes.
The current structure creates a climate of distrust that undermines our ability to adopt industry best practices.
The four-unit structure creates artificial barriers, given the similarities between the duties performed by members of different units. It happens that employees perform more or less similar duties, and belong to different bargaining units.
It compromises CBC/Radio-Canada’s ability to adapt so that it can address the growing financial and competitive pressures it faces in the broadcast industry.
3. What criteria does the CIRB use to assess a company’s bargaining structure?
The CIRB uses five (5) criteria in determining whether a company’s existing bargaining units are viable:
- Technological advances and the company’s operating environment
- Similarity and integration of functions
- Bargaining climate
- Communities of interest
- Impact of structure on employee mobility and career development
4. What happens after an application for review is filed with the CIRB? Is the current structure suspended?
The existing bargaining structure remains in effect when a review application is filed. Collective agreements still apply. CBC/Radio-Canada and its certified bargaining units must conduct good-faith negotiations to renew the collective agreements that expire during the process.
If the CIRB agrees to review the bargaining structure, all the parties involved must hold discussions on the structure to be implemented in CBC/Radio-Canada’s new economic and technological environment.
5. How long could the procedures last?
At this stage, it’s difficult to predict how long the Board hearings and proceedings will last. It will largely depend on the positions taken by the parties involved.
6. Why is the current union structure preventing CBC/Radio-Canada from fully leveraging technological advances?
Over the past 10 years, technological advances have revolutionized production methods and fundamentally changed how many CBC/Radio-Canada employees do their jobs. For example, editing is now done on computers, audiovisual reports can be produced on smartphones, and content can be easily delivered across multiple platforms via simple, user-friendly equipment.
The current union structure is not conducive to adopting and leveraging these powerful new technologies, since employees’ different union affiliations create obstacles to their use. Many employees, especially those hired in recent years, come with a versatile background that includes knowledge of IT and all stages of the production process. They’d like to apply their full potential, but are discouraged from doing so under the existing union structure.