Saint John Seven end strike, MBS Radio begins lock-out

Radio Free Saint John WEB ColourThe seven unionized workers at MBS Radio in Saint John, New Brunswick called an end to their 686-day strike last week. Their employer responded with a lock-out notice, saying they will not be allowed to return to work without a collective agreement.

The Saint John Seven joined the Canadian Media Guild in 2011 and spent almost a year trying to negotiate a fair first contract. They went on strike on June 25, 2012.

Gary Stackhouse, one of the striking workers and the president of the Private Radio branch of the CMG, says the seven have made a complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board alleging that the company has been bargaining in bad faith, seeking only to break the union and get rid of the workers who organized. A CIRB hearing is scheduled to begin in the first week of June.

In the meantime, Stackhouse is heading to Halifax for a meeting tomorrow with a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Stackhouse says the lengthy strike has only made the seven radio employees more resolute in their fight for a fair deal.

“This battle was never a selfish one. It was never about individuals walking off the job to get a bigger paycheque for themselves,” he told Story Board in a phone interview earlier this week.

“It was about the mistreatment of our co-workers and friends and the people who will come after us. We all do this because we believe in private radio. We do it because we love serving our community through private radio.”

The seven striking workers, who earn salaries that are roughly half of the national average for private radio, sought the support of local businesses, many of whom joined an advertising boycott against the station. The Halifax-based broadcasting company, the workers contend, has been draining hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars per year from Saint John businesses but failing to put money back into the community in the form of reasonable wages for its employees.

“Our problem with the way Maritime Broadcasting is operating right now is, they expect people to go to school and invest tens of thousands of dollars in their education to become broadcasters and then work at Maritime Broadcasting for $10.58 an hour,” said Stackhouse.

“Nobody’s prepared to do that. Nobody’s prepared to incur those kind of debts and then never be able to pay them back.”

You can read more about Saint John Seven’s fight for a fair deal on the CMG website.


Posted on May 15, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , , , ,

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