Nose pressed to glass

Monday, August 29, 2005

Kill the king!

To all the managers I've loved before (and those I've yet to meet):

My Friends on the Inside, you may feel tired, overwhelmed, even powerless. But you are not. Far from it, you may be the best chance any of us have of making this nightmare end.

The ideological gulf between the union and your boss is so vast and deep that no hope of a settlement seems possible at the moment -- if nothing changes. So something has to change.

What I'm asking you to do, simply, is to kill the king.

Oh, I'm not asking you to actually physically harm Richard Stursberg, or anyone else foaming at the mouth over the number of staff employees. Such an act would be contrary to the Criminal Code, a bad-faith labour practice and downright rude.

Nor am I asking you to quit, join us on the line or do something that will get you fired. After all, I wouldn't do those things if I were in your Pumas. What I would do, and what you should do starting this very second, is to quietly undermine the bossman. Now why should you do that?

Well, the king is mad. He's a crusader with an agenda hidden deep inside his bodkin. He can't explain the main reason we're out -- why CBC should have a significantly higher number of contract employers than its competitors -- so he has no clothes.

You are serving a mad, nude king.

And every day we're out here staring in at you doing our jobs, sort of, the corporation is becoming a little less recognizable, a little more broken, a little more (permanently?) diminished.

CBCers, those slightly odd articulate types, are listening, watching and reading elsewhere. CBC haters, and there are many, are having Christmas in August. Are you reading the papers?

So what to do? Well, don't be so managerial. Don't go the extra mile. Do your job but leave after eight hours. I know the overtime is tempting but you know the money doesn't really belong to you. You're doing a job that nobody, except the mad, nude king and his hypnotized servants, wants you to do.

Most importantly, in subtle ways, tell the king he is mad and nude. Go to the pep talks but instead of nodding your head or trading tips on sneaking in and out of the building, ask some tough questions.

Why do we need so many contract workers? Don't CTV and Global do just fine with a primarily staff workforce? Why do you continue to tell the public only 5% of CBC staff are on contract when you know it's a blatanly misleading technicality? If we're on the side of right, why don't those on-air apologies use the word "lockout" instead of labour disruption? If you have to be nude, can you at least do some crunches once in a while?

You get Groupwise every day. Send some of it to the union. Send some of it to me. Expose the truth. Mount a palace coup.

If you managers don't go the extra kilometre, the on-air product will deteriorate even further, advertisers will demand their money back, other CBC profit centres will suffer.

Stursberg will face some very tough questions from the board of directors and be pressured to compromise on the contract issue. They and you can end this. It'll be painful to watch but, I think, mercifully quick compared to the assisted asphyxiation we're witnessing today.

Start now. Kill the king.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger formertvslavetolove said...

Yeah, check out the so-called manager blogs. Seems we might not have as many friends inside as we thought (no offence to those who really do feel like shit about all this. a special shout out to the anonymous manager who wrote a nice honking cheque to support us. you are loved). Some middle management are clearly on a divide and conquer mission. I bet it's easier to swallow such an assignment on $54/hour overtime. I hope the good people inside, who believe in public broadcasting, believe in our audiences and believe in the people on the front lines realize this is a time when you have to look yourself in the mirror and do the right thing. Sometimes killing the king to save the kingdom is heroic.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Cin said...

A truly ethical person knows that the ends do not justify the means. A good end needs a good means. If the corporation was truly justified, it would find a noble way to bring in more "flexibility."

Another rule to ethical living is refusing to be complicit in things you think are wrong. Don't like it? Refuse to go along. That's why lots of people don't drink Pepsi, pump Shell gas, or wear Nikes.

The same rule applies to the managers in the building. Think this whole thing sucks? Think it's killing the CBC? Then you need to undermine the damage and stand up in any way that is safe for you. Kill the king.

But I doubt many will, because what I have noticed in my years at the CBC is a dreadful lack of any social conscience from many of my colleagues who end up in management. They don't do what is right or wrong. They do what's best and easiest for them. And they climb the ladder.

(Big exception for our wonderful donor manager. That was an upright and honourable act. And for JNA and a few others I work with, people with ethics and compassion. But they're the minority.)

Hey, I'm not saying I haven't succumbed to that sort of behaviour on occasion. But I try my hardest not to.

Prove me wrong, middle managers. I would love to be wrong.


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