Nose pressed to glass

Sunday, October 02, 2005

To Hull with them!

A few days ago, I'd thought we'd be spending the pre-Thanksgiving weekend giving pre-thanks that a deal had finally been hammered out. Next week would see both sides sell the deal and then a vote and then we'd all troop in to work full of turkey, pumpkin pie and long-simmered bile.

A deal may still be nigh or it may be a month or more away. I can't tell. Fontana is playing tough guy, which is to our advantage, but what are his options if the two sides can't agree? Now the Liberals are apparently saying the government might fall in the next couple of weeks. It would be a disaster for management (let's see the BBC cover that) but also for us if we were stuck in limbo.

I know, lots of you are saying "it can't happen" but I don't think I was the only one saying the same thing Aug. 14. Fontana's "cone of silence" has just been extended. Let's hope it doesn't end in K.A.O.S.

Some stuff I promised last time:

- "An interview with the Toronto radio staffer that Susan Marjetti has not yet called." That was a joke, a promise I can't deliver on. She was calling everyone, moaning about how she never wanted to be on the air and how terrible it is inside. Featherbedding at its worst. She's obviously political but how crass to try to moan and commiserate with people who haven't seen a cheque in weeks? She obviously enjoyed being on air, and don't tell me she didn't love kudos from Margaret Wente. I'm guessing she signed off only when it was apparent her telemarketing work wasn't doing the trick.

- "Managers' nickname for Simcoe Park, where the fun never stops." The Lido deck, a reference to the party headquarters of The Love Boat, where shuffleboard was always on offer and anyone from Liza Minnelli to George Hamilton might start a conga line. I'm apparently not the only one to have my nose pressed to glass - they've been watching from the other side as the Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith, the great bake-off etc. gave us lockouts a boost.

- My last prediction was about a breakthrough on the near horizon. I was sort of right - Fontana summoned both sides to Hull. But we're still locked out.

Two new ideas:

- There was talk that Bernard St. Laurent was being called on the carpet by Esther Enkin for some perceived journalistic ethical failing. Puh-leese. After all the shit that management has pulled - the "labour disruption" tag on radio, linking only to the management side from cbc.ca, covering all the queries in Question Period on the first day Parliament resumed except those about CBC (and leaving the placeline off QP story sign-offs to hide the fact that McQuaker is doing them from Toronto), re-running old sports competitions without saying on the screen that it's not live ....

Whither Enkin's credibility? I'm sure the company line will be "Let's not talk about the lockout, we've got to move on and return to our first-rate reporting blah blah blah..." If that doesn't fly maybe there will be a vague promise of an inquiry into lockout failings with a report to land sometime in 2007. (Kreskin moment - such a report will say lines were crossed but with good intentions, really nobody to blame, time of crisis, yada yada)

I say if management is still calling what it puts on the air "the CBC", manager-journalists should be held to the same standard and treated exactly as we would be in peacetime, including reprimands, suspensions, whatever. Enkin should be part of the post-lockout housecleaning and, if she's not, I hope people take her to task the first time she tries to get all Poynter-institute on somebody's ass. If you are invited to one of her meetings, put her feet to the fire or walk out.

On the topic du jour, l'affaire Common: Management must love seeing us turn on each other like starved rats in a cage. The Toronto newsletter shouldn't have re-published the Zerbisias column about it. I say, everyone take a deep breath. If Workman was going to be recalled next June and if Common had been told before the lockout he was going to get a foreign posting, I can't really fault the guy.

I know he has a reputation of being out for himself but I have to think some of the virulent reaction is jealousy. People are making it sound like he'll rue the day he sold us all out but, come on, he'll be in Paris for three years. Why would he care? In his shoes, I think most of us would do the same.

But a huge huzzah for Paul Workman. I'll give thanks for him. Pass the stuffing.

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