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Friday, August 01, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: CBC staff psychologically unhealthy!

Reader-submitted question: Have you seen this?

Yes.

Judging by the number of times people have sent me this story today, this is of keen interest to my readers.

A 2005 survey showed that almost half of the CBC's staff were suffering from high levels of psychological stress related to their working conditions. That's the same year there was a bitter, months-long lockout, so I'm not sure if the survey was completed before or after all of that nastiness. I'm also not sure if it's an accurate reflection of the current situation.

CBC treats its staff really poorly. I am still bitter that they screwed me out of my maternity leave because there were two days I did not work while I was moving to the Arctic. It was a weird human resources thing: I was short two days on paper and they were unwilling to accept that I had probably put in the equivalent of two months of unpaid, unclaimed overtime. I was furious, but unable to do anything about it.

I am not fond of unions, but the situation with management at the CBC is just ridiculous. The stories about people being systematically screwed over are infuriating. When people across the country started to compare notes, they realised that they had all been told the same thing: there was coincidentally only enough work to last the exact length of time the CBC would not have to pay them benefits or convert their jobs to permanent positions! Who would have imagined it?

I'm not sure why they seem to hate their own staff. During the lockout, I heard a lot about the need to be "flexible". This meant that they needed to be able to fire people for no reason at any time. Their solution: converting permanent positions to short-term contracts. They claimed that young people want contracts. You see, young, sexy, carefree people don't want to be tied down to permanent positions with health benefits and pensions. Flexibility is IMPORTANT to them. Only old fogeys with hair coming out of their ears want permanent positions. Dental work is for losers. And really, which would you rather be: young and carefree or old and toothless? Clearly, short-term contracts are for you!

This argument never made sense to me. Sure, I like flexibility. And there is nothing more flexible than the ability to quit my job whenever I want to. That's why I took a permanent job.

They also claimed that they needed to be able to fire bad staff. I would never argue that bad employees should be kept on the payroll. Sometimes people need to be fired. However, the CBC's problem is not that they have no way to get rid of bad staff; it's that they have been unwilling to follow their own rules about disciplining people. The rules were set out very clearly in the collective agreement. People could be fired. And yet, they usually weren't. Why is it the union's fault when management can't get its act together enough to fire someone who deserves to get the axe? The problem was never the collective agreement or the staff. The problem was management.

For another perspective on this story, check out Tea Makers.

2 comments:

scribe said...

The CBC has become a total joke. I'm sure you're glad to be out of there. I know several CBC writers/editors and they're all miserable. Aside from Wal Mart, I've not heard of a more dysfunctional workplace.

Cin said...

I was part of that survey, and I was one of the many who said I had a boss that hated me at one time.

I thought it was just my location until the lockout.

When I moved south and Mother Corp did not want me as an AP or producer despite eight years with the service and a national reporting award (they didn't even interview me and they hired someone straight out of a diploma j-skool), I knew I was done with the place.