Labour minister predicts CBC talks will resume shortly

Government refuses to cut broadcaster’s public funds

Both sides of the two-week-long labour dispute will be back at the bargaining table soon, predicted federal Labour Minister Joe Fontana.

Fontana might name a special mediator to help talks along but Heritage Minister Liza Frula told the Toronto Star last week that the government had no intention of cutting CBC’s funding for the duration of the lockout, despite pleas from the union.

The Canadian Media Guild, which represents the 5,500 locked-out workers, asked the federal government to withhold the broadcaster’s public funds so that the lockout wouldn’t just be a cost-saving measure for the CBC.

The guild placed an advertisement in Ottawa’s Hill Times questioning whether a Crown corporation that locks out its employees should get its full parliamentary appropriation.

Guild president Lise Lareau said Canadians shouldn’t have to pay for the sub-standard programming available on CBC right now.

A poll, conducted from Aug. 18 to 21 by Decima Research, just after the lockout began, found that only 10 per cent of the 1,000 respondents considered the lockout a “major inconvenience,” while 27 per cent considered it a “minor inconvenience” and 61 per cent reported no impact at all.

The lockout is expected to have a larger effect once people return from summer vacation and resume their regular schedules.

CBC’s rivals CTV News and Global National News have reported an increase in viewership since the start of the lockout. CBC also announced that it has given TSN the broadcast rights for the CFL Labour Day game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

At the heart of the dispute is the CBC’s desire to hire more contract workers.

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