Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Council Wage Freeze Sought
(published int he Daily Gleaner on December 14/10)

Two city councillors who opposed giving the city's non-bargaining staff a two per cent wage hike say they're equally opposed to city councillors getting a cost-of-living adjustment to their stipends in 2011.

Finance committee chairman Coun. Mike O'Brien didn't get a chance to speak when he chaired the open budget meeting, at which councillors debated whether to hike the managerial salary scale for 2011 by two per cent.

The wage hike also applies to Local 3864, technical and professional employees, who tie their salary adjustments to the managerial pay scale.
The two per cent also applies to non-bargaining personnel such as administrative assistants and non-unionized clerical personnel.

O'Brien and Coun. Jordan Graham were told at Monday night's council meeting that they would have to introduce a separate motion to create a wage freeze on council pay cheques. After the meeting, O'Brien said he and Graham will have a talk and figure out the protocols for bringing the council wage freeze forward. Mayor Brad Woodside asked them if they wanted to impose the freeze permanently or for the 2011 budget year only. Graham suggested it be for the 2011 budget year and be reviewed annually after that.

"I just wanted to declare that if it had come to a (tie) vote, I wouldn't have supported it," O'Brien said of the two per cent wage increase. "I didn't support the transit (drivers' wage) increases either. "In light of the fact that it would show some leadership by this council, I would like to propose an amendment to this ... that would effectively freeze the wage of mayor and council for 2011," O'Brien said. The finance committee chairman said that would be worth $6,237 since the consumer price increase is at about 1.5 per cent.

"I appreciate your intentions, but the increases we get aren't two per cent, but are CPI (consumer price increase) ... but I'm sure that many agree with you that they don't want increases," Woodside said. The mayor said councillors have the option of declining the pay increase on an individual basis, but both O'Brien and Graham want a formal resolution.

The mayor said a separate motion would be required if O'Brien and Graham wanted to make a formal motion.

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