New Brunswick

Miramichi mayor wants apology for payroll centre comments

The mayor of Miramichi, N.B., is calling for apology after a union representative for workers at the federal pay centre said it was a mistake to move the centre to the small New Brunswick city.

Mayor Adam Lordon wants a union representative to apologize for comments about Federal Pay Centre

Adam Lordon, mayor of Miramichi, is asking for public retraction of a comment made by Greg McGillis who said it was a mistake to move the pay centre to Miramichi. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

The mayor of Miramichi, N.B., is calling for apology after a union representative for workers at the federal pay centre said it was a mistake to move the centre to the small New Brunswick city.

In an interview with CBC News on Thursday, Greg McGillis, executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), was asked to comment on the ongoing problems with the Phoenix pay system. 

CBC TV host Harry Forestell asked McGillis: "should the wage centre be moved back to Ottawa? Was it a mistake to move it to Miramichi in the first place?"

"I think it's clear it was mistake to move it to Miramichi," McGillis responded.

Call for apology, retraction

Two days later, Miramichi's mayor Adam Lordon released a statement asking McGillis to publicly retract his statement and apologize.

Since the Phoenix system was launched in February 2016, tens of thousands of public servants have been underpaid, overpaid, or not paid at all. The system's main payroll centre is in Miramichi.

Sunday Lordon told CBC that employees at the centre contacted him and asked him to make a public statement in support of them.

He said he felt the union leader's comment was a direct attack on his community and those who work at the centre. 

"His statement is deeply disappointing and categorically false," said Lordon.

He said McGillis should know that the "challenges have nothing to do with the physical location of the payroll centre in Miramichi."

​'Deeply disappointing'

Lordon went on to say that McGillis's comments were hurtful to union members.

"When you're in a position of leadership you have to watch your words closely and I do think in this instance Mr. McGillis did not do that," Lordon said. 

Greg McGillis, regional executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, spoke to CBC on Thursday. (CBC )

I"When the Phoenix system issues are resolved, and every federal public servant is paid, it will be in large part because of the patience and dedication to getting the job done of the Miramichi team," Lordon said in Saturday's statement.

Union apologizes

PSAC offered an apology on McGillis's behalf.  Vice president Chris Aylward said the union has always supported the pay centre being in Miramichi. 

"The comments by Mr. McGillis were certainly ill-placed. It was very unfortunate that he made that comment. He certainly should have not made that comment," Aylward told CBC. 

Aylward said within the next 24 to 48 working hours they will be reaching out to local chapter president to ensure they feel they have the full support of the organization. 

"We would have no problem providing an apology to the mayor, obviously to the workers, and to the city of Miramichi," said Aylward. 

About the Author

Nathalie Sturgeon is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate from the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She is from Blackville.