© — Telegram file photo
The job cuts and reorganization underway within the provincial government will save money when things settle, but currently have their own costs in both dollars and morale.
According to one union leader, government departments are still in upheaval trying to adjust to personnel changes.
When asked about how bumping was proceeding, Carol Furlong, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), accused the Dunderdale government of not properly preparing for the fallout from the budget.
“It’s chaotic. It’s confusing. It’s very ill-planned. And frankly, I don’t think they had any concept of what they were doing … when this process was initiated,” she said.
Asked for specifics, she confirmed reports of workers leaving their jobs and being unable to obtain formal records of employment.
For those staying, she said seniority lists were not up to date, throwing a wrench into the bumping process.
“Some of this is pretty basic stuff,” Furlong said.
The bumping process “is taking up considerable effort and time,” she said, estimating about 80 grievances have been filed to date.
Some people have filed more than one grievance. Also, there are mirror complaints, so the resolution of one grievance may simultaneously resolve others.
Resolving grievances is being put into the hands of the “bumping tribunal” — a joint panel of union and government officials.
Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy was not available for an interview Friday, but provided an email response to some of Furlong’s comments.
Regarding seniority lists, Kennedy stated the lists were provided to NAPE at the beginning of the year and employees have the responsibility — under the collective agreement — to review the list and make sure it is accurate, within 30 days of posting.
“Extra staff from within Human Resources Secretariat were assigned to updating the lists and work through any errors commencing as early as February of this year. The majority of this work was concluded prior to the commencement of bumping activity, but as is normal course, the process remains ongoing throughout the bumping process,” he stated.
Each eliminated position in government triggers bumping affecting anywhere from four to 10 employees before things settle.
“For the last several weeks, a large group of staff have been devoted to (the) cross-departmental bumping process, ensuring every employee who can be accommodated, is accommodated,” Kennedy wrote.
During the bumping process, staff can request review of a certain government position, to see if they can bump into that role. Hundreds of reviews have been completed since the budget was released.
As for records of employment, that issue was raised in the House of Assembly this week by provincial Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.
“This government is denying overtime to staff who are responsible for preparing those necessary forms,” Ball said Wednesday.
In response, Kennedy said he had been made aware that day records for 170 people were not available.
“They will be done by the end of the week,” he said.
In his communication with The Telegram, the minister said only 13 records were still outstanding as of Friday morning. Those were expected to be completed by the weekend.
Of course, there will be more to be completed before bumping is finished.
“Extra staff have been assigned to the division that completes this work, and staff have been working overtime to work through the backlog,” Kennedy said.
The overtime will be an added cost for the province. Those costs are in addition to the one-time payout on benefits for workers leaving government jobs — including severance and accrued overtime.
The one-time, $65-million expenditure associated with the cuts also includes $4 million for voluntary retirement packages.