TVO employees back to work Monday after monthslong strike: TVO

TVO's employees, who are represented by the Canadian Media Guild, voted to accept TVO's offer over the weekend. (Alex Lupul/CBC - image credit)
TVO's employees, who are represented by the Canadian Media Guild, voted to accept TVO's offer over the weekend. (Alex Lupul/CBC - image credit)

After walking off the job in late August, employees at Ontario's public broadcaster will be going back to work Monday, according to a press release issued Sunday evening by TVO.

TVO's employees, who are represented by the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), voted to accept TVO's offer over the weekend. The accepted offer includes a wage increase of 7.7 per cent over three years.

The 11-week strike began on Aug. 21. Meredith Martin, TVO's branch president with the CMG, said the strike was one of the hardest things she's ever done in a post on social media.

"Although we didn't get the wage gains we were hoping for I'm incredibly proud of all we accomplished and I think TVO will be a fundamentally better place to work going forward," Martin said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In an interview with CBC Toronto, Martin said the wage increase is below inflation but the union members felt they couldn't stay on strike and achieve a higher hike.

"We are fighting a fight against the provincial government and we're only 74 members," she said.

The wage increase includes a three per cent increase in year one, a 2.75 per cent increase in year two and 1.75 per cent increase in the final year, according to TVO.

In August, employees rejected a wage increase offer that was slightly lower than what was accepted this weekend, a seven per cent wage increase over three years with the possibility of another 1.75 per cent increase in the fourth year.

When the strike began, CMG said members had received below-inflation wage increases for the past 10 years, including three years of wage freezes.

The union also said they deserved meaningful increases after seeing their wages capped by the one-per cent limit imposed by Ontario provincial wage restraint law known as Bill 124, which capped salary increases for broader public sector workers at one per cent a year for three years. The law was declared unconstitutional last year, though the province has appealed.

Union president still worried about future of TVO

"Today's vote comes as welcome news," Jeffrey L. Orridge, CEO of TVO, said in the news release.

Even though the strike has ended, Martin is still worried that the journalism side of TVO will be under threat of cuts.

"I don't think the future of journalism at TVO is very bright," she said.

In light of that belief, one aspect of the deal Martin said was a "huge economic gain" is that voluntary buy-outs will be offered to many employees.

"I think there are a number of people who will be taking those packages," she said.

Another gain Martin said was part of the new agreement is $500 a year for training for each employee.

CMG represents around 70 journalists, producers and education workers at the Ontario organization.