Posted November 27, 2013
Officers of the Amalgamated Transit Union representing employees of Guelph Transit have charged the city with “misrepresentation” in the wake of the damning report by the internal auditor of alleged abuse of overtime and absenteeism by ATU employees.
The auditor did not mince words when she accused some transit employees of “misappropriation” of city funds. She told the audit committee that she was not “finger pointing” at all transit employees.
Michael Mahar, Canadian director of the union said the auditor’s report was “misleading”. He went on to say that “transit workers put in extra hours to make sure there is always a service provided. He added that the industry is prone to higher absenteeism due to the nature of the job.”
Well, he got that right. Guelph Transit has the highest rate of absenteeism and sick leave of all other city departments. In 2012, the average number of sick leave by ATU members was 19.8 days. The total number of sick days off was 7,650. That department had some 345 employees last year.
Conclusion: How do you run a transit service that has an average of four weeks sick leave per employee? Throw in three weeks vacation time and statutory holidays and the annual attendance on the job by a transit worker is 43 weeks a year. That’s a pretty good gig.
But not all transit workers are abusing the system. The auditor stated it was a group of employees who contributed to the overtime in 2012 of $1 million. That’s almost 20 per cent of the $5,067,000 staff wide overtime for 2013. If CAO Ann Pappert had not frozen overtime for the balance of the year, that figure would have been greater.
The total number of sick days claimed by staff in 2012 was 21,469. That works out to an average for all city employees of 11.7 claimed sick days. Obviously three departments dominate the sick leave numbers. Besides Transit (7,650 days) there is CUPE 241 outside workers (6,002 days) and Firefighters (2,429 days).
Note that in 2008 the total of sick days across all departments was 14,755. In 2012 it was 21,469.
Other tidbits in the HR 2012 report stated that 20 percent of the city staff would be eligible to retire in the next five years. Start factoring in annual salary increases and accumulated sick leave payouts, and this could result in a big liability for taxpayers.
The cost of staff benefits has risen by 38.6 per cent since 2008. Consider that’s an annual increase of 7.72 per cent. In dollars it’s an increase of $2,159,094 in just five years. In 2012, benefits cost $7,746,722.
What started this was Coun. Gloria Kovach’s attempt to get the total number of employees working for the city and their classification. The mayor said the numbers were in the Human Resources 2012 annual report.
Well, they are, to a degree. They list 847 “other” employees without breaking out their classifications. That’s what Coun. Kovach was after.
For the record in 2012 the city had 2,065 employees. That was markedly greater that the 1,441 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees the city stated in its various releases.
In her blog, the mayor chastises those who “finger point” and complain about how the city is being managed. Guelphspeaks is guilty as charged but won’t get into a finger metaphor.
She should listen more carefully to what citizens are really talking about before accusing some of “finger pointing.” I guess being in total control of the city administration for seven years, it comes as some surprise that a lot of people don’t agree with her worship or her cast of sycophants.
This week, the first stage of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) investigation into the GRG petition requesting an audit of the city’s finances and operations took place. Representatives of GrassRoots Guelph met with MMAH officials. The officials also separately interviewed representatives of the city administration.
GRG presented with officials with a copy of the internal auditor’s overtime and absentee report plus additional background information on other recent events that have contributed to the petition’s thrust claiming mismanagement by the city administration.
The officials cautioned that resolution of these issues would take some time. What was important to GRG was the Ministry officials’ analysis of the petition numbers validated their accuracy.