Dozens to be laid off in St. John's; mayor warns more to come

St. John's city council has voted to lay off some outside workers, after the department of public works recommended cutting staff by 48 positions.

City staff recommends losing 48 management and unionized positions

St. John's city council voted to cut 48 summer and winter workers during the weekly meeting Monday. (CBC)

St. John's city council voted Monday to lay off some outside workers, after the department of public works recommended cutting staff by 48 positions.

Council voted during Monday's weekly meeting to cut four management and 33 unionized positions during the 16-week winter season.

One management and 10 unionized positions during the summer season will also be cut.

Included in the cuts is the dayshift for sidewalk clearing. 

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said job cuts are unfortunate but necessary, and added that more are coming. 

Others councillors and Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth thanked the employees and offered apologies to anyone losing their jobs.

"We recognize that staff are impacted by this, but as staff costs are the largest portion of our organizational expenses, there are unfortunately few other options to reduce our costs," Coun. Danny Breen said in a statement Monday afternoon.

'Bumping options'

"The existing system has two day shifts for sidewalk clearing and it was felt that the shift could be optimized to retain the same level of service with a reduction in staff," the recommendation said.

The letter from public works said there will be flexibility to add operators to the sidewalk-clearing operation if need be, and that each shift will have the minimum number of staff needed during a winter storm.

"The current practice of using rented trucks, along with the city's fleet, will enable the existing level of service to the city to be maintained."

The changes are expected to save $700,000 in 2016 and $1,350,000 in 2017.

Through this process, the letter said, some positions will be made redundant and unionized staff will be provided with bumping options.

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