|RCI ACTION COMMITTEE
Seven Days a Week - Defending Radio Canada International - Canada's Voice to the World
RCI and CBC
Media coverage of RCI
|Committee back after Administration Attempt to Stop Us
Union Support from CBC/Radio-Canada Unions Across Canada
On October 31, 2001, in an unprecedented move, RCI's administration tried to shut down the RCI Action Committee.
In a memo sent to all RCI staff, Jean Larin, the Manager of the RCI "Redeployment" listed a number of articles both from the employees' collective agreement as well as the Journalistic Standards and Practices of the CBC.
As a result, the weekly meeting of the Action Committee planned for that very day was cancelled, and all communications with non-CBC personnel concerning the RCI situation were stopped until legal advice could be given from the employees' union.
Among the articles mentioned in Larin's memo are the following from the Journalistic Practices:
2.4.6 (a) Employees may not engage in activities likely to bring the Corporation into disrepute.
2.4.6 (b) Employees may not take a stand on public controversies if, by doing so, the Corporation's integrity would be compromised...."
This is the first time employees have been told to stop talking about what is going on at RCI, since they started their battle 11 years ago to protect RCI's mandate. (For details see What's Going on?)
"Why is the administration so afraid of what we are saying?" asks Committee spokesman Wojtek Gwiazda.
"All we are asking is that CBC's own Program and Corporate policies, as they affect RCI, are respected and obeyed."
Since June of 2001, a "Redeployment Plan" has radically cut down on news and current affairs programs, cut in half the popular Russian and Ukrainian broadcasts, and reduced staff and resources.
All of this is happening in a fiscal year in which the $15.5 million budget of RCI had a surplus.
It should be noted that CBC/Radio-Canada is only supposed to administer this budget, it does not contribute to it. The totality of the budget comes from the ministry of Canadian Heritage, which has been constantly informed of the situation, but has not moved to stop the cuts.
The employees' concerns started when a memo from CBC President Robert Rabinovitch in April of 2001 failed to include English and French programming produced by RCI as part of the list of broadcasts that would continue. The staff got together, formed an Action Committee and asked for clarifications from the then RCI Director, Robert O'Reilly.
One month later, a massive series of cuts were announced that were to take effect at the beginning of June.
Before and after the cuts came into effect, the Committee has called for a moratorium on cuts and face to face discussions with the administration, both with the CBC vice president responsible for RCI, Sylvain Lafrance, and with the CBC President.
In a rare meeting with staff in June, Lafrance explained CBC/Radio-Canada's policy vis-Ó-vis RCI: "maximum synergy, maximum integration" with and into the domestic service.
At the beginning of October two representatives of the Committee met with Rabinovitch and Lafrance, but were not able to convince the two administrators to change the Corporation cuts.
By the end of October, Jean Larin, who has since been made RCI director, sent his e-mail warning employees not to speak out.
The results of the changes of the past few months has been catastrophic. Jobs have been eliminated, other positions have been transferred to the domestic service, and there have been severe program and resource cuts.
For instance, in October 2000, both the English and French services of RCI broadcast about eight newscasts a day, now it's only two in English and three in French.
The current affairs program, Canada Today and it's French equivalent Canada en direct, which were updated through the day and heard five times each day, now only broadcast twice a day. In addition, the second program is just a re-broadcast of the first. And the second half hour of each, is a re-broadcast of a pre-recorded weekend program.
The result? Suddenly, very few of our programs are live broadcasts.
As journalists, producers, and production and technical staff we are shocked at how far both RCI's and CBC's administrators are willing to go to dismantle the RCI team.
Given the seriousness of the situation at RCI, the three unions who represent the Montreal employees at RCI have increased their previous support. As well, the Action Committee has now received formal backing from all CBC/Radio-Canada unions across the country.
Following a Committee meeting on January 9, 2002, the employees decided to continue the battle to restore programming and protect RCI's mandate to be the Voice of Canada to the world.
Jean Larin Memo - Articles Cited Details
Overview "What's Going On?" Details
"CBC Brass doesn`t Understand Mandate" - Article in Ottawa Citizen Details
How to contact the Committee Details