The Public Works Committee approved the proposal to add two new upper managers to the Hamilton Street Railway on a close 4-3 vote.
The matter will now go to Council, where an interesting debate will occur over cost-savings and growth of management at the City. In favour of the proposal were McHattie (mover), Jackson (seconder), Duvall, and Whitehead. Opposed were Pasuta, Ferguson, and Collins. Merulla and Powers were absent.
Director of Transit Don Hull stated the three front-line maintenance positions are no longer needed as a result of Council’s investment in new buses, meaning there is less need for maintenance as was the case with the older – now retired – buses.
Ferguson lead the opposition, saying Director of Transit Don Hull told Council when they purchased the new buses that taxpayers would enjoy cost savings from decreased maintenance. Ferguson continued by stating instead, Hull’s proposal is to take those promised savings and put them into new managers.
Council will vote on ratifying the committee decision on Wednesday, November 27.
Hamilton Street Railway management is asking Council’s Public Works Committee to cut three front-line maintenance positions and replace the positions with two new managers – at an additional cost of $29,500 per year.
The three maintenance positions – two half-time and one full-time – are currently vacant and management proposes using the funds from cutting the positions to partially fund two new Superintendent positions, increasing the number of Superintendents from 7 to 9.
The report in front of Committee states the increase in managers is needed to “provide for more effective management of the workforce. The expected outcome of this additional staff is that performance appraisals for all staff will be completed in a timely manner, leading to improvements in employee engagement, attendance and customer service.”
Without the increased managers, the report continues: “To achieve this objective with the current staffing levels would be inefficient and ineffective with additional costs incurred for overtime.”
The report does not provide any alternatives for Council to consider.
The HSR’s Director, Don Hull, refused to answer any questions about the proposal.
The following are the questions asked and his response.
[Note questions to staff on committee reports are sent to the General Manager’s first. Gerry Davis is General Manager of Public Works]
Your Department is requesting Committee approval to eliminate two union positions and to replace them with two management positions in Transportation at an increased cost of $30K/year.
I note the report does not provide alternatives for consideration, what will occur if this request is not approved?
What impact will eliminating two positions in the maintenance have upon the work of that area of Transit? Will it increase the time required to repair fleet or decrease the amount of work that can be done on the fleet internally?
What do you hope to achieve with the change in staffing?
Answer from Don Hull:
Good morning Joey,
We’ll be happy to meet with you and answer all your questions once PW committee has had an opportunity to consider the staff report,