Public-sector salaries rise and fall

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Barb Sweet
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Job-evaluation system to determine pay rates for NAPE members

Hundreds of job classifications will see wages rolled back for new hires under the pending job-evaluation system affecting the province’s largest public-sector union.

NAPE president Carol Furlong and NAPE secretary treasurer Bert Blundon address members of the media Wednesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Current employees in the jobs affected by a reduced pay scale won’t see their wages cut. Instead, they will be red circled, meaning they will not take a cut in pay to the new rate, and in future will receive some increases as pensionable cash bonuses, but their hourly rate remains the same until the new hires’ pay scale catches up to them.

Of roughly 20,000 current public employees represented by Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), about 85 per cent will see an increase or no change in their salaries as a result of the new job-evaluation system (JES), but 15 per cent of employees will be red-circled, a spokeswoman for the Human Resources Secretariat said Tuesday.

There is concern about a divide-and-conquer mentality, because some jobs are being valued as less while other occupations are going up on the pay scale, according to an employee in one area affected by the pending rollbacks.

The employee, who did not want to be named, noted morale is bad enough as it is. It has been a difficult year in which the government slashed jobs as part of Budget 2013, and negotiations led to a tentative agreement in which NAPE employees will get zero per cent in Years 1 and 2 of the deal. The total value of the contract is five per cent, and ratification votes are now taking place.

There is also concern about how the JES will affect temporary employees — some could spend years in that category — and whether they would have to take a lower wage coming back to work after being laid off for a period of time.

The employee also said some workers might be less apt to switch jobs, depending on the pay scales, and they are worried that it will be difficult for the government to recruit new hires to certain positions, which could lead to jobs going unfilled and more duties for those already in the system.

The degree by which the wages roll back for affected NAPE jobs ranges from a few cents to several dollars an hour.

There are many job classifications in which the value of certain jobs is going up under the new system — again within a range of cents to several dollars per hour — depending on the position.

NAPE provided some background on the JES, but was unable to answer the question Tuesday of how temporary employees would be affected, as it may vary by contract.

The Human Resources spokeswoman said after the JES takes effect in 2015, any seasonal employee who is on a red-circled salary scale will remain on that scale and will not see a decrease in salary if they are laid off for the season and later return to the same position.

 

A few examples

As an example of the roll backs, the top rate for an aerial photo technician I will be $23.74 an hour for current permanent employees as of April 1, 2015. But the top pay rate for new hires as of that date is $21.47.

The top rate for a fisheries licensing administrator Step 3 is $33.28 per hour for current employees as of April 1, 2015. But the hourly rate is then rolled back to $27.23 for new hires.

The top of the scale for an airport dispatcher II Step 3 will decrease from $29.98 per hour to $26.47 for new hires.

There is an appeals process in which employees can challenge the evaluations, and NAPE has already had inquiries and concerns expressed by some members, so the process may get tangly before the new JES comes into play in 2015.

Then there are the jobs that will see a pay boost as a result of the evaluations. For instance, if you are a park technician II, the top of your scale will rise from $25.84 in 2015 to $27.23 an hour under the new system.

A marine mate second class will see the top of the scale go from $23.89  per hour to $26.47.

A cardiology technologist II will see the top of the scale go from $31.94 per hour in 2015 to $35.70.

The new JES for NAPE went up on the Human Resources Secretariat website just last week.

The Telegram reviewed reports detailing wages under the pending new system, and found 500 instances where job classification steps are being rolled back. 

But some of the affected classifications cross multiple agreements — for example the job title “administrative officer 1A step two” appears in the general service, school boards and hospital support contracts.

Job titles also cross multiple pay categories, as various government jobs work on a system of classifications and steps.

There was no NAPE representation on the government committee that arrived at the hourly rates for the jobs under the new system. Beforehand there was a sampling of employees in various classifications who filled out a questionnaire. They were asked about such things as education and duties, but were not asked to recommend pay rates.

According to the government, the process began in 2001 and a steering committee that included representatives from four unions — NAPE, The Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Association of Allied Health Professionals and the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union.

But the final job ratings were completed by the Human Resources Secretariat.

Only the NAPE reports have been posted so far on the site.

A recent NAPE news release on the tentative contract stated the new system will see total compensation increase for NAPE members by about $48 million.

NAPE apparently received that figure from the Treasury Board. It was unclear Tuesday to The Telegram how that math was arrived at, and whether the rollbacks are factored into that number. While the number of new hires as of that date can’t be calculated at this time, it’s unclear whether potential public-sector retirements were factored in to the math either.

Originally the new JES was to be implemented at the beginning of fiscal year 2016. That was changed to 2015.

 

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Human Resources Secretariat, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees Association of Allied Health Professionals Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Human Resources Secretariat.Only Treasury Board

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Recent comments

  • Screwed over by nape
    October 03, 2013 - 07:44

    Our nape negotiators are being out played by government. The deal is not even signed and government announces that they're coming after our pensions next. Our "loyal" nape leaders are telling us to give up wages so other can earn more, sorry but no thanks. And now the government is telling us that we will be losing out on our pensions. So, this is it in a nutshell, nape wants about 40% of us to give pay. We know government wants the pension be based on a longer period of service, from best five years to like best 10 or 20 or maybe over your entire career. If this deal goes through then those losing out now will lose a lot more when they go to retire. Thanks nape, with you on my side I don't need enemies.

  • Agriculture hit hard
    October 03, 2013 - 07:18

    In our office over 40% of staff are taking a pay hit. If the union sell us out now they better not expect our support the next time there's a strike. We'll be inside trying to recover lost wages.

  • Impacted by JES
    October 02, 2013 - 19:49

    Nape - utter betrayal for members that have been red-circled, especially one that jobs have been downgraded 3 or more grades. It will be devastating on both their wages and future pensions...in fact it's possible that some may not get a raise for the next 10+ years. Nape should have had someone on the committee that determined the JES rates to protect the hardest hit people. I always thought that a union looked after 100% of its members, not just 50 or 60% of them. There is a lot of anger out there now and many are questioning why they are even part of the union.

  • Chester
    October 02, 2013 - 15:55

    I completed one of these (jes) surveys maybe 2009 Govt. should make some changes to public servants in Trans.& Works I think they need all new managers & good PR. people.

  • Pierre Neary
    October 02, 2013 - 15:24

    I thought a union was for all not just for some?

  • Ryan
    October 02, 2013 - 12:33

    All for one, one for All- NAPE

  • Jack
    October 02, 2013 - 12:10

    The actual number of people receiving a decrease in GS (General Service) is almost 42%! How can this many people not be represented by NAPE??? Time for a drastic change at NAPE....like ridding ourselves of these morons!

  • TIME FOR CHANGE
    October 02, 2013 - 11:48

    About time the Government IT employees looked at leaving CUPE and NAPE unions and join the PIPSC. At least then we can be properly represented... NAPE and CUPE have done nothing for IT sector.

  • Public Servant
    October 02, 2013 - 10:19

    This is crazy times to be a public Servant.... Layoff 1200 people, cut hours, increase workload, adjust pensions (Yet to be known how) and now cut salaries. I would hate to see if we were a "Have Not" province!!! They keep saying everything will be ok and you are not going to lose pay, but in actual fact you will!! Once implemented and an employee becomes Red Circled they still get all the raises they are just called Bonus Wages. So up until the JES Salaries reach the GS Salaries you are fine (On Paper). At that point when base hourly rates are the same, the Employee who was red circled and was getting the "Bonus Pay" will lose it. So basically if it takes them 6 years to catchup you will than be reverted to the same salary you had 6 years ago. Unbelieveable!!! They wonder why they can't attract people to the Public Service?? There is no benefit in becoming a Government Employee.... all they had was an "ok" wage and a "ok" pension... now they have neither. This Government in times of a "Booming Economy" and being a "Have" province should be Ashamed of themselves!!!

  • T
    October 02, 2013 - 09:44

    I would love to know who the 85% are who are getting an increase with the JES system. EVERY employee, with the exception of 1, and that is the lowest paid employee, are going down at least 2 or 3 and in some cases 6 levels!!! And son't tell me that the Unions are not in bed with the Government....they are working WITH them, not working for their members.

  • Shelly Tilley
    October 02, 2013 - 08:31

    As a young educated employee this is the last straw for me. After serving the public service for 7 years, I will be looking for a job outside government. The changes I have witnessed over the last year are simply sickening. Permanent employees with great work ethics and experience pushed out the door. There is no value left for education, experience-there is just a broken system left and unfortunately the general public are the ones that will suffer. It amazes me how most people are completely unaware of what has transpired over the past year. Hundreds of layoffs, that seemed to have no rhyme nor reason within departments. The overworked are even more overworked and yet there are still employees who can twiddle their thumbs. Some departments are severely affected and are so short staffed they can't meet day to day operations. Because of layoffs I have been forced to do work now that is well above my level and pay scale because there is no one else to do it. However my position will receive a $10,000 pay cut once this new job evaluation system comes into effect. I work in a specialized field and after years of training and education this is not acceptable. I see other employees around me with years of experience and knowledge not just from education but from working many years for government only to receive the same news. I simply can not stay and work when there is no stability, no pay and no indication of what will happen to the pension that I have paid into for years. I truly hope there will be some positive changes in the government over the next few years that will entice some of the valuable employees to stay because right now the future is looking grim.

    • John Smith
      October 02, 2013 - 16:48

      I know other NAPE members saying that they to are leaving. Educated people. Huge cuts were made at OHS. The union are giving out misinformation to its members. The vote should have been cancelled.

  • Chris
    October 02, 2013 - 07:06

    How about the IT department at Eastern Health. Every single role from the Computer Support Specialist to the Database Administrator is taking a hit upwards of $9,000 a year. This is a small department of about 100 staff that was targeted because there wouldn't be a kickback as big as deducting a department of 1000 staff.

    • Whatryaat
      October 02, 2013 - 08:48

      Chris - the IT folks across government were hit the same. It just doesn't make any sense that in the technological world that our jobs are suddenly being under valued!! To make the best of it NAPE won't do anything for us. We are on our own to battle it out. With any luck I can retire in 13 years. I will probably never see another pay raise again. It's about a 20% pay scale decrease to catch up to.

    • Ryan
      October 02, 2013 - 09:21

      The sad part is that union members are voting yes to this already without knowing all the true facts.