Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

Increasing salary gulf

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Unless there has been no recognition in past salaries for the stress and danger of policing, caution should be used in basing larger pay increases than other public employees on these aspects of the job, as appears to have been done by an arbitration board (Panel awards police wage increase totaling 8.5 per cent over 2 years, April 25), and the city, which offered larger settlements to police than to other public employees.

Let us suppose that past salaries for police and other public employees do already incorporate differences due to stress and danger, such that police receive $75,000 versus $55,000 for jobs demanding similar qualifications and skills. That is, police receive $20,000 or 36.4 per cent more per year because of the added stress and danger.

Now suppose in one year, police receive a five per cent raise and other employees receive zero. Salaries are now $78,750 for police and still $55,000 for other public employees. Police now receive $23,750 or 43.2 per cent more than other similarly qualified employees. The disparity in favour of police has grown in that one year by $3,750 or 6.8 per cent.

And this could continue year after year, producing ever-larger salary differences between police and other public employees, even though there may be no increase in the stress and danger of policing.

Indeed, risk could actually decrease from one year to the next given increases in the number of police, as planned over the next few years.

I strongly agree that police and other public employee salaries should reflect the danger and stress of the work, as well as qualifications and skills. But it is also important for fairness and equity that considerations of risk be applied in a rational way and not produce disparities that are perhaps greater than intended or justified.

JIM CLARK

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2012 A19

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