Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Before I head back out to the oil patch with Dad today, I'd like to take a moment to discuss two of the most misused business terms in the news today: "strike" and "lockout." Yes, both have to do with labour negotiations, but they describe two different things.

A "strike" is when the workers don't like the deal being offered to them and stop going to work.

A "lockout" is when management doesn't like the deal being offered to them and shut down the business.

What happened in the NHL last season was a "lockout." The players and the management were negotiating a new contract. The players didn't like what management was offering them, and offered their proposal. Management didn't like the players proposal and "locked out" the players.

What's going on right now with the CBC is a "lockout." All of the workers who don't have contracts wanted to have contracts. The CBC said, "No, we won't give you contracts, because we like the flexibility of having you all as part-time and casual workers." The workers said, "No. All doing that does is screw us out of job security. Give us contracts!" And CBC exercised their flexibility and "locked out" everyone without contracts...which amounted to pretty much all their news staff, which is why there's no more National or announcers on football games.

What's going on with Telus right now is a "strike." The workers and the management have been negotiating a new contract for the past 4.5 years. Finally, in an attempt to end the standoff, the management offered one last "take it or leave it" deal. The workers decided to leave it and went on "strike."

Of course, what confuses this issue is the fact that the workers consider leaving it as management having locked them out, which is why the workers on the picket lines claim that they're locked out.

You know what the big sign is that the Telus dispute is a "strike" and not a lockout? Because (at least in Alberta), workers are crossing the picket lines and going back to work. That only happens in strikes, never in lockouts.

Sorry for ranting, but reading the news in the papers every morning where they call the CBC dispute a strike and Telus a lockout is really starting to piss me off.

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