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TVA Sports to be locked out soon? It would be a catastrophe
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

The media universe in Quebec is currently in crisis. Despite tens of millions of dollars in Google and Facebook government subsidies going directly into the coffers of companies…

Traditional media have – for the most part – failed to adapt to the new digital reality. Some have caught on too late, while others have preferred to beg for subsidies rather than work hard to increase their revenues.

But in the end, there’s also something that has shattered the financial and accounting equilibrium of local media companies: the rigidity of employee spending. Especially in an ecosystem as small as Quebec’s. We can’t have a business model based on volume, as is the case south of the border. #Anglophones #HundredsOfMillions

It’s understandable for an employer like Quebecor to want to lower its payroll and give itself more flexibility (and therefore less rigidity).

However, it’s well known that Pierre-Karl Péladeau has never had the tact to carry out this kind of transformation properly. Remember the Journal de Montréal’s two-year lockout 15 years ago… and last year’s massive job losses?

The factremains that a union that’s too big, too heavy and not open enough to the difficulties facing the employer often causes bigger problems, rather than solving them.

Just ask my parents, who both lost their jobs at the same time, when I was young and the heiress of Steinberg stores decided to close her plant in response to union threats.

Or talk to those in the construction industry, who refuse to allow an employee to perform more than one specific task, as is the case everywhere else in North America. Whatever.

In an attempt to survive, TVA Group – whose shares once traded near $35, but are now worth only $1.38 – may be tempted/obliged to declare a lockout in 2024. Negotiations to renew the collective agreement of TVA Group’s unionized employees are stalling, against a backdrop of massive layoffs.

“Fears of a lockout are mounting […] a lockout (on the management side) could be triggered on March 4.”Lila Dussault, La Presse

This morning, La Presse reported that TVA’s employee union had left the negotiating table earlier this week.

The problem is, the union wants to save all the jobs AND resurrect those lost last year… while Groupe TVA may intend to cut others, or at least remove some security and rigidity from the collective agreement.

There are even rumours that TVA is already in the process of offering work contracts to certain technicians in preparation for this possible lock-out.

Reality is changing, and the industry is in dire straits. In recent days, Félix Séguin (the journalist, not the describer), Paul Larocque and Renaud Lavoie have come to the defense of management, not the union.

“In the short and medium term, I believe this posture will only lead to losers.” Félix Séguin, speaking of the union’s withdrawal from the bargaining table

“Withdrawing from the conciliation table when there was still time and when the federally appointed conciliator is one of the most skilled in his profession, according to many, really? […] I’ve looked hard, but I haven’t found any precedent where the empty chair policy has served the best interests of the members who are represented. None whatsoever. – Paul Larocque

“TVA is not a fast-growing company like Netflix. If you continue to deny reality, you’re putting all union members at risk, both those who leave and those who stay.”Renaud Lavoie

On the one hand, I think it’s a bit cowardly to speak out against your union, but at the same time, I think the three men are brave and really want to make their effort to save their employer’s business.

Google, Facebook, the union, demographics, language, cable churn, the rigidity demanded by the collective agreement, inflation, interest rates, the faltering economy… The headwinds are strong for TVA Group.

Étienne Paré of Le Devoir also wrote an article on the subject. In it, we also read about the union’s lack of rigidity and the dangers of this type of behavior.

“The employer] shows no willingness to save any of the jobs illegally abolished on November 2, and offers no guarantees for the remaining jobs in the next collective agreement. Of course, negotiations are not over, they are suspended. It isessential that the employer shows openness on these points,” the union lamented on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

A possible lockout at TVA would mean enormous challenges for TVA, TVA Nouvelles, LCN, TVA Sports and other media under the TVA banner.

I’m pretty sure Gary Bettman wouldn’t be too happy to see bosses and scabs out in force to try and save the French-language broadcast of NHL playoff games.

“More m*rde from Quebec, you bastard!” – made-up Gary Bettman quote

No, I don’t believe that the next NHL TV rights will belong to Quebecor in two and a half years… and no, I no longer believe in the return of the Nordiques. We have a knack for doing business badly in Quebec.

Hopefully, the union will wake up and realize what it’s getting into, and PKP won’t be too ruff. But for that, we’ll have to stay at the table and negotiate, guys…

In brief

– The symphony orchestra and sport: a winning combination. [LaPresse]

– Seeing what the Flames managed to get in return for Elias Lindholm five weeks before the trade deadline, I can’t believe those who claim that the Habs won’t be able to get their hands on a first-round pick or a quality prospect in return for Sean Monahan. #JustSaying

– With Elias Lindholm gone… and Chris Tanev expected to be next soon, we can deduce that at best, the Flames are in reset mode (and at worst, rebuild mode). Except that rebuilding with Jonathan Huberdeau’s contract on the books won’t be easy. #JustSaying

– Keep an eye on the Rocket.

– Julien BriseBois does things the right way.

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