Nova Scotia

Halifax AG says Transit drivers take too much overtime

Halifax's Municipal Auditor General agrees with the city's stand on a new scheduling system for bus drivers — meaning too much overtime is being taken by some workers.

Halifax's municipal auditor general agrees with the city's stand on a new scheduling system for bus drivers —  meaning too much overtime is being taken by some city workers.

The finding is part of a new study on the municipality's multi-million dollar overtime bills.

Larry Munroe said Wednesday the city has had 1.5 million hours of overtime over the past four years at a cost of $10 to $12 million a year.

Munroe said there are two major offenders when it comes to overtime — Transportation and Public Works and Metro Transit.

The numbers for Metro Transit workers spike when it comes sick days, unexplained absences and overtime costs.

Munroe had a recommendation, which he said he wrote months ago.

"That Metro Transit review scheduling practices in light of higher than average unscheduled absences," he said. "We believe overtime is being driven predominately because of absences."

A new scheduling system is part of the city's stand in the current transit strike.

Lost productivity

Coun. Barry Dalrymple said the report vindicates what managers are trying to do.

"It's time to stop making excuses and stop coddling the worst offenders and go after them more vigorously and bring them in line," Dalrymple said.

Another councillor, Linda Mosher, who's on the finance and audit committee thinks the overtime report should be sent to the new conciliator who's been brought in to get both sides back to the table.

"The lost productivity for your average joe at HRM is 6.47 weeks, but Metro Transit is 7.64 weeks," Mosher said Wednesday. "We have a young workforce, this problem of lost productivity is going to escalate exponentially."

"Metro Transit is double the average from Stats Canada for sick time. Sick time, the unscheduled absences and the average productivity, with a very young workforce should be brought forward to our new conciliator," she added.

Bus drivers wanted to go to binding arbitration, but the city refused Tuesday to go along with that idea. Instead the city accepted an offer from the province to use the head of conciliation services.

There's no word on if, or when new talks will take place.

Bus drivers have been on strike since Feb. 2.