Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Layoffs possible at City Hall: Ford

Mayor Rob Ford warned Tuesday that layoffs of city employees is an option if too few workers take buyouts.

As the city rolled out a buyout offer to 17,000 employees, Ford told reporters it’s time to trim staff because there are “too many” on the municipal payroll.
“It’s a big chunk of our budget, we have too many employees down at City Hall and we have to find ways of giving them packages to move on or entice them to move on,” Ford said. “We can’t carry 53,000 employees anymore, our labour force is too big.”
The mayor wouldn’t commit to the number of employees he would like to see slashed from the payroll.
“It’s hard to put an exact number on it, you look at the 7,000, 8,000 people that have been hired in the last 10 years and you have to look is it absolutely necessary?”
He said it’s premature to rule out layoffs until the city completes its service review with an eye to cutting costs.
“We cannot running the city the way we are ... We’re trying to fix a mess that we inherited,” he added.
Workers who take a buyout will receive three weeks severance for every year of employment with the city. Managers can count on four weeks of pay for every year worked. The payout will be capped at six months.
City Manager Joe Pennachetti said the buyout program will invite employees to apply for exit packages up until Sept. 9.
Council will have to sign off on the buyout effort at its Sept. 26 meeting.
Asked about the mayor’s comments on the city having more staff than it needs, Pennachetti said “the employees that are out there now reflect the services being provided.
“We’ve got a big $774 million-plus (budget) problem; there will be some impacts on services and we have to then allocate the appropriate staffing resources to reflect the new reality of services, that will mean some impacts,” he said.
Pennachetti said he’ll have to deal with the possibility of layoffs after the buyouts.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said layoffs may be the only way to save money.
“We simply can’t afford to continue the operation at the level we’re doing,” he said. “It might require drastic actions.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan called Ford’s “remodelling of the workforce” a gesture.
“You could end up with everybody in the water plant walking off the job tomorrow and taking the package. Is that really a realistic strategy on how to manage city affairs?” Vaughan said.

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