September 25, 2013

Courier pay is great, but is it too much?

As published in The Erin Advocate

Is there anyone out there who would be willing to work as a Library Courier for, say, $24,000 a year? How about $34,000?  Any takers at $44,000?

I recently saw a Help Wanted ad from Wellington County for a Temporary Full Time Courier, at a salary range of $46,429 to $54,327. That is $23.80 to $27.86 per hour, for a 37.5 hour week.

Obviously, not everyone would qualify for such a job. One would need a high school diploma, be familiar with libraries, have a satisfactory driving record and have 1-2 years of courier experience.

The successful candidate will have to work unsupervised, lifting loads of at least 55 pounds, multiple times per day, including “pushing and maneuvering a cart full of library bins, and carrying bins up flights of stairs” and driving a van in all weather conditions.

It’s too late to apply for that job, but I mention it because I could not help but notice the contrast with another recent ad from our library system, seeking Casual Part Time Assistant Branch Supervisors, at a rate of $21.72 to $25.39 per hour.

For 10 per cent less pay than the courier, the assistant supervisor candidates are required to have a Diploma in Library Techniques, a year of work experience in a public library, strong computer, organizational and communication skills and experience planning and delivering programs to all ages.

They must be willing to work at different branches throughout the county, and can only expect about 20 hours of work every two weeks, including day, evening and weekend shifts. Both positions are on Wellington’s Non-Union Compensation Grid.

I asked Chief Administrative Officer Scott Wilson about the pay discrepancy. He said jobs are rated according to 13 criteria, which include the conditions of work.

“Assistant Branch Supervisors work in better conditions, while the courier is out driving in all sorts of weather,” he said. The pay for a job such as the courier’s can be bumped higher if the job is repetitive in nature.

The relative ratings are part of the Pay Equity system the county has used for many years, based on provincial guidelines.

“That’s the system that we have, though the results may seem a little out of whack,” said Wilson.

Many people these days have given up on staying informed about what the public sector is trying to accomplish, simply viewing it with scorn and resentment. They see it as separate world where the norms of common sense do not apply.

Personally, I do not paying a bit extra for public services, as long as they are of good quality. But we all live in a highly competitive marketplace, which should at least influence the public sector. Every employer, whether private or public, needs to be on the lookout for opportunities to save money.

It is not, however, just about the money. If our governments cannot at least maintain the appearance of careful spending, it undermines confidence in the entire system, and that is a dangerous slope for all of us.