BBC accused of bias in Canadian dispute

Unions have condemned the BBC for taking sides in an industrial dispute at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Since CBC locked out its 5,500 unionised workers on Monday, news programmes from BBC World have been broadcast across Canada to fill gaps in schedules caused by the lockout.

In a letter sent to the BBC sent today, broadcast union Bectu and the NUJ accused the BBC of undermining union members in Canada by helping to keep CBC on the air, and warned that serious damage was being done to the BBC’s reputation.

Lise Lareau, president of the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) which represents the locked-out workers, said: “The BBC runs the risk of losing its international status as an impartial and highly regarded news service by so openly being associated with one side in a dispute between CBC and its staff.”

The BBC’s two main unions have demanded an urgent meeting with top managers to discuss the issue.

Martin Spence, Bectu assistant general secretary, said: “The BBC’s support for a broadcaster, which has locked out its staff rather than talk to them, can only make CBC management bolder and will probably lengthen a dispute that should never have happened in the first place.”

CBC’s move to lock out its workforce came after talks between Canada’s main public broadcaster and the CMG collapsed over a difference of opinion on the use of staff on short-term contracts.

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