Canuck pubcaster, union come to terms

CBC unlocks the door

The seven-week lockout of 5,500 staffers at Canuck pubcaster CBC appears to be over after management and the union hammered out an agreement at midnight Sunday.

The CBC refused to comment on the deal until staffers vote on it in the next few days.

But the Canadian Media Guild said the deal included “a strong commitment to permanent staff as the standard for employment at the CBC.”

The pubcaster locked out the staff Aug. 15 after negotiations for a new contract broke down over union demands for more full-time staff rather than short-term contracts.

“It took hard work and compromise on the part of both parties, but we now have an agreement that serves the interests of public broadcasting and the needs of our members,” said Arnold Amber, prexy of the guild’s CBC branch executive council.

Last week, the guild nixed a management proposal restricting the number of short-term employees it hires to 90 people annually.

The guild said the deal improved the rights of contract and temporary employees and upped wages by 12.6% over the life of the contract, which expires March 31, 2009.

CBC’s programming was crippled by the lockout. Pubcaster was forced to delay the launch of numerous high-profile new shows, including a biopic of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and was filling many of its newscasts with BBC news reports.

Last week, federal labor minister Joe Fontana asked both sides to move the negotiations from Toronto to Ottawa and pleaded with them to end the conflict quickly.

Many industryites believed the spat would be settled before Saturday’s start of the National Hockey League season, a major revenue earner for the CBC.

CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald confirmed that NHL hockey would be on the air Saturday.

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