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Work on correcting salary imbalance needs to start now
A while back I offered an explanation as to how CVRD remuneration, particularly for senior CVRD staff has been whip-sawed upwards with the aid of human resource operatives.
The process utilized comparisons to other local governments. We chased our tails, never quite catching up. It was a fool’s game and we are now all caught up in it.
Union employees play the comparative game as well in negotiations. They play one local government settlement off another, with an ever-escalating upward benchmark the goal.
The history is the history, plain and simple in hindsight for all to see, even if it was all done behind locked doors.
Federal, provincial and private sector wages, remunerations and benefits are all on a completely different reality, disconnected from the local governments across the province, or for that matter Canada as a whole.
Comparisons and anchoring need to be linked to the other three relative sectors, at a minimum — no more chasing the tail of the neighbouring local government alone.
CVRD management and union rank and file will not want to be compared to others, but that exercise has to happen before meaningful realignment can be targeted.
This necessary first step needs to be both presented and debated in open session at the CVRD board table, and be scrutinized rigorously by the press and public.
Remember the Dingwall quote: “I am entitled to my entitlements.” Remember the 2008 economic nosedive. Recall the changing meaning of “Greek tragedy.”
These sort of real world constraints have not been measured in the local government arenas in any sort of meaningful way, but should have been. Many property taxpayers, however, will continue to face such realities.
Expect formidable resistance to any wage and benefit restraints, but the public interest is greater than the individual interests here.
Expect your politicians to be managed, cajoled, and weaved and bobbed around if possible, expect a herculean effort to keep the whole remuneration dialogue in closed session; if anything is shared, it will be modest in content. That will not be adequate to some of us. We are truly at a crossroads here: closed or open.
Be prepared to be offered a hybrid — the agenda, but not the content.
These are my opinions, and are about rational, and effective open process to fix what is — or perceived to be — broken or skewered.
We need to start somewhere. These broad comparisons to all other sectors are that good place, as well as openness and transparency.
Loren Duncan is CVRD director for Cowichan Station-Sahtlam-Glenora