CBC lockout: one year later

Globe and Mail readers: If you’re looking for an example of this blog’s “tough love aimed at CBC management” you could do worse than read why we are frustrated. And thanks to Guy Dixon for taking the time and effort to get it right with his piece today.

Today Lise Laureau writes:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the lockout that forced more than 5,500 CBC employees onto the street. It’s hard to know whether to celebrate, mourn, mark or ignore it.

That’s exactly how I feel.

She goes on to find some reasons to be proud about the experience, but I just can’t muster it. The whole thing makes me feel rotten.

The obvious question is: has anything changed one year later?

I think some of senior management are genuinely reaching out and trying to make things better. Not all of them are evil. Some were pretty shaken up over the whole thing, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to repair the damage.

But these are small victories. As a corporation, as a whole, I don’t think we’ve learned a goddamn thing.

And when it comes to the workerbees, any effort has been a matter of too little, too late. Many of them are still angry. Some of them won’t be satisfied until Stursberg and Rabinovitch are gone. I can’t blame them.

The day the lockout started, one year ago, I didn’t understand what was going on, or what it meant, even though I was blogging about it. Over the months to come I would learn the hard way that a lockout is very different from a strike. A lockout is a brutal, cruel, demoralizing tactic to use on your employees. Your family. One that can tear a place apart.

Others understood this better than I did. That first day, a very senior manager stopped into my office, looking beat down and worn out. He told me wearily: “This place will never be the same.”

At the time I thought he was a melodramatic old fool.

But as time goes on, and the more I see, and the more people I talk to, and the more I blog, I realize he might have been right.


  1. Mr. Smith
    Posted August 22, 2006 at 5:56 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The first myth of management is that it exists. But if we’re going to assume that it has some real power over the quality and quantity of production in a workplace, surely we have to consider that the power could be used For Evil. Or, at least, be wielded incompetently, sufficiently advanced stupidity being indistinguishable from malice.

    Ah, but Allan’s comments here were at least 88% Ouimet-baiting. Carry on, then…

  2. Allan
    Posted August 19, 2006 at 3:00 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    When I worked in Media at Employment & Immigration in Hull, there was a guy at a desk across from mine who spent a half hour on the phone telling his mother how lazy everyone around him was and how nothing ever got done.
    Now that’s irony.
    If the CBC sucks maybe it’s because of people like Anonymous above who “have only the incentive to do the bare minimum required to keep that paycheque coming”
    And of course, that’s management’s fault.
    Right, Ouimet?

  3. Allan
    Posted August 19, 2006 at 2:41 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No, Ouimet is the self-appointed judge of what’s best for the CBC.

  4. Ouimet
    Posted August 17, 2006 at 5:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Nice post, Anon. I appreciate your honesty.

    But “the CBC will act in the best interests of the CBC?” If history has shown us anything, it’s that the CBC is easily prone to being controlled by a handful of people. Or one person. And that person might not be the best judge of what is best for the CBC.

  5. CBC Frank
    Posted August 17, 2006 at 11:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Anonymous,

    You have now been here long enough to know the CBC secret. I can only suggest that you don’t encourage your kids to work here.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted August 16, 2006 at 10:21 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m an APS employee. When the lockout occurred, I was only too happy to lend an extra hand in exchange for the promise of extra cash. Union schmunion, I read The Corporation, and I’ll admit to being part of the problem; cash rules.

    But I’m beginning to come ’round. Having been at the CBC through only one “labour action event”, I’ve come to the realization that despite what well-intentioned managers (senior or otherwose) say and try to do, the CBC will act in the best interests of the CBC. And the immediate corollary: I am not the CBC. Neither, even, are the managers. Even the evil ones.

    The Corp is not interested in my abilities or my creativity or my future. The Corp acts in its own interests. If supporting my interests helps the CBC, then we have a happy coincidence that may result in good things for me, but as soon as our interests diverge, He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules.

    It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way this (and every other) Corporation is put together, regardless of who’s in the corner office.

    So I’ve lost interest. If the greatest reward for my continued contributions is that I’ll continue to get the same paycheque, I have only the incentive to do the bare minimum required to keep that paycheque coming.

    And if the Corp starts getting less from me (as I’m sure it has from the disappointed CMGers who are back at work), then I dare say that’s *their* problem, not mine. My only problem is to find a smarter employer.

    The lockout was demoralizing to more than just those who were locked out. APS employees who continued to work were shown just what it means to be out of favour with Pa. Stay in line, or you’ll be tied to a post in the back yard, just like your big brother.

    And whaddya know, the churn rate in my department is higher over the last year than it was any time in the three years previous.

    I’ve taken a while for me to realize it, but this really is not a healthy place to work.

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