Public-sector salaries rise and fall

Job-evaluation system to determine pay rates for NAPE members

Barb Sweet bsweet@thetelegram.com
Published on October 2, 2013
NAPE president Carol Furlong and NAPE secretary treasurer Bert Blundon address members of the media May 15, 2013. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

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.

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