Too much money for unskilled labour

Letter: How can small business compete for employees?

I see in the classified section of the Observer is running an ad seeking applications for a part time labourer. The District of Kent position is for non or semi skilled duties assisting more skilled employees.

The hourly rate posted is $21.30 per hour for three months, and $25.06 per hour thereafter, plus union benefits.

My experience is that as time is spent in any position, skills are acquired and one then becomes a semi skilled, or skilled labourer. So this job would presumably be targeted at young or new workers with no skills.

My concern is that the job description does not match the pay scale. A quick search of the WorkBC jobs website shows that a typical hourly rate for an unskilled labourer is minimum wage, or slightly higher. The rate offered by the District of Kent to an unskilled labourer with three months experience is more in keeping with postings for skilled carpenters, dental technicians and Chefs. Many other private sector employers are offering far less even for positions requiring considerable training and experience.

As a small business owner and employer in Agassiz, I object very strongly to such generosity with my tax dollars. Furthermore, it belittles my efforts to compensate my highly trained staff.  And of course it does not stop there. If the renumeration of the newest and least able member of District staff is so out of hand, I can only imagine how large the figures must be at the other end of the scale.

I understand that the posting is for a union position and the defence will be that renumeration is the result of a negotiated settlement with the union. My position is that the District has a responsibility to be more frugal with our scarce tax dollars.  A negotiation is between two parties, and while the union representative may make unrealistic demands, there is no obligation on the part of the employer to concede. Negotiations must be made while being mindful of the huge responsibility the employer has to the local tax payers who are expected to pick up the tab for the end result. The District of Kent cannot allow further increases to public sector pay until the private sector who are footing the bill can afford their largesse.

Martin Sparkes

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