Friday, June 13, 2008

Statutory absenteeism

Less than three months after packing the public galleries of Council Chambers to warn politicians against drawing any pertinent conclusions about the work ethic of City workers in light of an average absenteeism rate of 19.4 days per employee last year, London's CUPE 101 inside workers could end up extending their own 16.9 days of absenteeism per employee into a strike after rejecting the City's offer to raise wages 2.75 per cent this year and next, and 2.5 per cent the following year. We can at least conclude that a strike of 16.9 days or less will have no impact on their workplace productivity. On the other hand, any strike duration will have no impact on their commitment to the public who pays their wages and benefits.

Although it will be lost on those politicians who apologized to City workers for any feelings anyone might ever be imagined to have held over their absenteeism, a municipal union without a contract should be regarded as an opportunity to contract without a municipal union. No services are done to the public by a union that is unwilling to renegotiate 2500 hours of paid time off for union work — a provision that must cost taxpayers over half a million dollars a year for this one local alone — or to permit an increase in the number of part-time employees. The services, it should be said instead, are for the union itself, which has tax-funded resources at its disposal to expend on political pressure to protect not only its access to those funds but to other non-negotiable privileges like, for example, fully paid Ontario Health Premiums for its workers. And few taxpayers will ever enjoy for themselves the pension and early retirement benefits that they fund for public service employees.

Already a prolonged strike by inside workers has its appeals. But the most significant advantage ought to be the opportunity to terminate the negative influence of public service unions on the efficient delivery of services and the ability of cities to manage budgets in the public interest by out-sourcing the services they are supposed to provide to the private sector which has, unlike municipal departments, a financial and not simply political incentive to reduce unnecessary costs. Most taxpayers will not find it difficult to abide a strike in which permit issues, building inspections, welfare administration and staff support for recreation, parking enforcement and financial operations are not provided — they are not likely to suffer for the time it takes to find other operators who will provide these services at a lower cost. And apart from the bromides of city and union politicians, they will be hard-pressed to find a good reason why they shouldn't.

See also:

Roll call
Overtime on the undertime
Absenteeism among the decision-makers

1 Comment:

Jim Horne said...

It's time to end the sick leave gratuity benefit for all public sector employees. Letting these groups walk away at retirement with an extra 6 months of pay for doing their job is an affront to taxpayers. This practice needs to end.