'Symbolic' council wage freeze panned - Metro US

‘Symbolic’ council wage freeze panned

City councillors will freeze their own salaries for two years, but stopped short of freezing salaries for non-unionized workers.

Senior management staff will also not receive a performance bonus in 2011.

The motion to freeze wages was described as “hollow” and “symbolic,” even by proponents.

Despite supporting councillor and performance bonus freezes, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said people should not expect this motion to save the city any money this year or the next year.

It will have to be voted upon again by council after the election.

College Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli said that at least it lays the groundwork for collective bargaining with the unions and funding discussions with senior levels of government.

“If the federal (and provincial) governments are doing it to its politicians, its senior management and its staff, do you really think there is something special about us?” said Chiarelli. “We need to go with clean hands when we sit down with our funding partners like the federal government and provincial government to seek their assistance for some of our priorities.”

Chiarelli’s motion included non-union support city staff, including political assistants, but that was rejected by the rest of council.

Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen said the motion is highly symbolic and doesn’t accomplish anything.

Capital Ward Coun. Clive Doucet called the motion “dishonest.”

“This is not leadership. It’s downwardship. It’s a look-good-in-the-next-election motion,” said Doucet. “I don’t think you’re valuing your political leadership when you’re paying them less than most of your unionized staff.”

Such motions to cut councillor salaries usually come up prior to almost every election, said Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, who called it “a pretend motion.”

Holmes said she was concerned with the effect it would have on the city’s ability to recruit top managers.

“We’re in competition with every other city in Ontario and we are way at the bottom in terms of compensation,” said Holmes. “It took us a year and a half to hire a fire chief, for example.”

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