Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time for a civil servant wage rollback

It is unfathomable in an economy where unemployment is reaching record levels, retail sales are dropping and once indestructible auto giants are staving off bankruptcy that across the province we should see the number of people in the once-elusive 'Century Club' growing.

In 2008, 69 Brantford city employees earned in excess of $100,000; nine employees (five more than 2007) made the list for Brant County.

The question shouldn't really be whether the city manager should have earned $213,586 last year, or whether the chief operating officer for Brantford Power Inc. should earn $125,520, or whether the other 67 people in the city should have earned more than $100,000. The question should be how can a municipality in good conscience continue to pay exorbitant salaries and increase taxes when people are losing their jobs, their incomes, their retirement pensions, and when simply living has become an increasingly difficult economic reality.

More than $7 million was spent in 2008 on salaries alone (for the 69 earning over $100,000). Some might say that is excessive.

Questioning the salaries of top employees isn't about questioning the employees themselves or their abilities, but rather a look at what the market can and cannot bear.

GM workers are voting on a wage and pension rollback, other employers are asking their staff to consider the same in taking wage reductions, freezes, rollbacks, not to mention voluntary and involuntary layoffs and staffing reductions.

It is easy to point the fingers at 'fat cat' salaries in Toronto or Ottawa, but when there is an increasingly greater disconnect between the public and the tax-paid staff that are in place to work on their behalf, there's a problem.

Perhaps next year, rather than looking at what services to cut or infrastructure projects to table to get the budget increase to a minimum, city councillors should look at asking their $100,000 club members to consider their own wage reduction in an attempt to lighten the burden on local residents.

After all, the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for these salaries, the least council could do is recognize whose wallets that money comes from and recognize that there comes a time when they just have to say enough is enough.

Enough! by Expositor editor John Chambers

An excellent assesment or reality check of the present economic reality. This is not a good leadership precedent or example. Can we afford to over-inflat and insulate one sector of the economy at the expense of those that create the taxes to pay them? If it doesn't work at GMC ,why should we expect it to work in the civil service? PR

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