Monday, March 3, 2008

Overtime on the undertime

"This is a defining moment in my relationship with this council so I hope that your minds are not already made up and there is no rush to judgment."
Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Fielding struck this defensive pose right from the beginning of his remarks to Council before today's presentation on the problems of absenteeism among municipal employees (PDF). Mr. Fielding should at least be commended for a mostly forthright acknowledgement of his position as he faces unprecedented scrutiny over concerns of secrecy and unwillingness to communicate issues in his administration to Council or to the public. These concerns stemmed not only from the insupportable advice of the City's lawyer to initially disclose the absenteeism problem in a closed-door session of Board of Control, but also because the issue was only flagged for discussion by Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen after two of his constituents noticed the implicit troubles as signalled in the City's advertisement for a Health & Wellness Specialist.

Aside from the absenteeism figures released in today's presentation (PDF), Mr. Fielding makes the critical observation that "the issue of attendance and absenteeism was first flagged in the 2006 Budget submission, and further defined with a business case for the 2007 Budget." If nothing has changed at City Hall, it would appear that it may be at least as much a lack of diligence on the part of elected officials to receive communications as it of administration's to forward them. Nevertheless, the question must be begged: What was the scale of the problem as reported in those previous documents?

Not to put too fine an apology on Mr. Fielding, however, his admission — it would appear almost to be a boast — that administration has "been engaged in addressing absenteeism […] for the last four years" obviously underscores his administration's competence at dealing with it. As the chart below shows, absenteeism rates have largely escalated over those same four years, particularly among inside workers (CUPE 101), outside workers (CUPE 107) and Dearness Home employees.* Mr. Fielding seems to be revealing more than he intends when he says that "we understand the absenteeism issues, but that we may not fully understand completely all its reasons for existence." In other words, we know what's going on but we haven't got the faintest idea what to do about it.

*Note that absenteeism figures do not include employees of the City's boards and commissions; for example, library or police workers.


Jake said...

Jeff Fielding has known about the absenteeism problem for more than a year and attempted to hide it under the rug from council. It wasn't until Paul Van Meerbergen blew the whistle that questions started to be raised. If it wasn't for him this story would never had seen the light of day. He should be commended for his actions.

If Mr. Fielding was a manager for a private company and knew that employees were absent as much 35 days a year--and knowingly never told his superiors about it for more than a year, he would be terminated immediately.

Mr. Fielding is an embarrassment to the taxpayers of this city and has been incompetent in numerous ways. He proposes multi-million dollar expenditures like call centres when he knows full well we cannot afford to maintain basic infrastructure and services. This is just one of many failures on his behalf. One of the key responsibilities of a manager is to find ways to save money--not ways to spend it more.

He should tender his resignation immediately.

NIAC said...

I have a hard time with the whole thing - considering that the bell is ringing when the absenteeism hits 35 days ... in a place that you are not allowed, by law, to enter if you are ill, for fear of spreading things like the flu to residents. Having the focus on that group is the kind of math that you see on The Weather Network, when a line is drawn in the middle of the screen, and 13 days are -10C, 1 day is 10C, so they show the average as 'zero'.

But then - I guess this is the first case of laws overlapping in opposing views. LOL

NIAC said...

PS...the average would be about -8.5 degrees. ;)

Honey Pot said...

sooooooo, I am looking into my crystal ball, and I says they are going to hire someone to watch the watchers to make sure the workers work.

It would cheaper to let the city hall employees' and managers collect a paycheque for a forty hour week and show up to work a couple of days a week.

NIAC said...

Only if the days off are paid for...both in your crystal ball, and in reality.

Honey Pot said...

I would like to know if there are any MIA's on the payroll down at city hall.

I know they hired that one human rights watchdog, Joyce Burpee, and we have never heard if she is still there or not. Last thing we heard she was on a leave for something or other. Probably for making a complete asshole out of herself.

She was only at city hall long enough to pull a Hedy Fry on chef, to see if she could ruin his life, and then she fucked off.

When her false allegation went to the HRC it was found to be stupid, and false.

We all know the false allegation had to be out there in tinfoil hat land for the OHRC to throw it out.

Is she still on the payroll? Is the second guy they hired to cover the socialist cabals ass for gender bias hiring still there?

Why do they need to hire anyone? They have people working down there that didn't show up for long spells of time in a four year period, and were not even missed.

Can't they just reassign a dozen of them or so to be attendance managers?