Friday, November 11, 2016

Working 9 till ?

Workin' 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin'
Barely gettin' by
It's all takin' and no givin'

These are lyrics to the classic Dolly Parton hit, but with overtime costs climbing for the City of Hamilton (see Spec write up here or purchase today's print copy), these lyrics may not be tumbling out of staff's lips anytime soon.

We touched base with Mike Zegarac, city Finance Director and asked him to provide some current and past charts of what the overtime actuals vs. projections were/are. Please click here to view the historical expenditures. Mike will also be providing a departmental breakdown in the near future and we will make it available when received. 

Your thoughts? 


  1. More overtime is often less expensive than more employees. Fringe benefits for municipal employees are still rising in cost, and they are a large percentage of labour costs.

    Some overtime does make more sense than hiring more people when considering personnel expenses.

    We should be sure though that working more than a few hours is optional. At one time we talked about pay at risk for some of our senior staff. Rewarding them if they saved money and performed well. There is no incentive to hold costs down other than budgets that are often increased when a department exceeds them. Sometimes the private sector does get it right.

  2. I wonder how these figures stack uo against other cities that are comparable to Hamilton?


  3. The City could always make public its performance metrics and annual evaluation reports thereof, department by department, with corresponding workload, achievements and challenges. Of course, that would probably involve a whack of new hires and a bunch of overtime.

    That said, there also appears to be a sizeable contingent of the municipal workforce that clocks out at 4:30, and many who put in a full day while only being physically present. Such as managers who appear to greenlight all overtime without question or challenge.

    We can also look at the ratio of management to front-line workforce and compare it against peer municipalities. I suspect that Hamilton has a bit of a relaxed waistband but maybe I'm wrong.


  4. overtime for Fire Department employee's appears to account for a disproportionate amount of the total. I assume this may be when a call has respondents out past normal quitting time as I can not conjure any other possible reason. How often could that happen? Surely this is something that could be addressed creatively during contract negotiations with an emphasis on relieving the burden placed on you and I.
    Perhaps a graduated scale predicated on activity?

    1. Fires do not happen 9-5. There should be no quitting time. There should be shifts.


    2. I believe they use a "platoon system" essentially 1x14 hour, and 1x10 hour shift per day. The issue arises when an alarm is received just prior to shift change. My understanding is that if a crew is required to respond and returns after "normal" quitting time-even 15 minutes-than a minimum overtime threshold is achieved. So an employee could essentially man a station for 13 hours, respond to a late call,arrive home an hour later than expected, while collecting 20 hours pay (at straight time) It would not take many instances for this to have an impact on budget.
      As stated, I believe the issue can be addressed. In my opinion, police and fire continue to "out negotiate" their municipal partners.

  5. This is an issue going back 12+ years from the sounds of it in the article.

    This must be part of the culture of low expectations at City Hall. It's broken. Fix it. Treat this like any other business - if this were the case either the company would fail or find the way to get better. Don't raise my taxes because you can't figure out where the money goes or how to make this work properly.

    ~ Hamilton Ratepayer

  6. I think an audit needs to be done per department on OT use and approvals.

  7. The interest arbitration system needs to be fixed for first responders. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario have been calling on this for years. With 24 hour shifts, equating to 7 days of work per month for Firefighters absenteeism has increased and overtime costs have ballooned. It is time for people to start demanding the Province to enact change right away. We simply can't afford it anymore, first responders receiving raises well above inflation. It is a known fact that if they were limited to what other public sector unions received in terms of pay increases municipalities across Ontario would have saved almost half a billion dollars.

    I really wish the public would speak out. They perform a critical service but not at this expense. Hence their desire both Police and Fire Unions to have the sunshine list threshold raised as every constable or firefighter with simply 4 years experience will be on the list. Some municipalities don't include the paid duty pay as festival and event organizers etc have to pay the officer directly. I wonder how much of that gets reported to the Canadian Revenue Agency as it is a personal cheque issued directly to the officer and not run through the police department payroll and hence not reported. This is a huge drain on people organizing events and festivals in their efforts to create a great city.

    We can't afford it anymore, people, please contact your MPP, this has to stop. If not, we will continue to see service levels decline to the benefit of first responders.

    I'm not making this up, the information is widely available, simply google, Ontario Interest Arbitration system broken. You'll see tons of in depth research. Don't take my word, the info is out there from reputable organizations.

    We need to act, MPP McMeekin told me they would have this addressed by Q1 2016 but have done squat. The Liberals are beholden to the police and fire associations. Very sad. I want my children to have great rec facilities, parks, libraries etc but they are taking a hit to award huge, double inflation pay increases to employment opportunities that people line up for. I guess the economic principle of supply and demand does not apply to police and fire.

    Speak up I beg you.

    1. Bill 121, Ability to Pay Act, 2012

      Bill 44, Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act, 2013



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