Due to an overall cut of 8.1 per cent from its operating expenditures, the Department of Transportation has changed its road maintenance program from two 14-week rotations to a single 20-week rotation.
It is not yet known how many workers this will affect, but about 240 people will be working in the new 20-week rotation, which is set to begin some time in May.
In the legislature Wednesday, (April 25) transportation critic Steven Myers said he believes 474 Islanders are being impacted by this change.
He questioned Transportation Minister Robert Vessey on how these 474 workers are being chosen for the 240 jobs being offered.
“Let’s put it this way — why didn’t your department see fit to have interviews for these positions?”
Vessey said he has no involvement in the hiring of these workers, but they are being chosen based on their past work history with the department.
“It’s all done through HR and senior management. Every year, there’s a job evaluation done (by senior management). So they know the people, they have the evaluations on who comes up to the top and those people will be offered positions first,” Vessey explained.
“If those people have found other employment or for whatever reasons don’t want to go back, then they will just keep people on a list and they will be picked according to job evaluations.”
Myers wants department officials to call everyone who applied for the jobs and inform them whether they’ve been selected for employment.
He believes government should be willing to tell those unsuccessful candidates why they were not chosen for the limited number of jobs available this year.
He also called on Vessey to provide some kind of support for these and other workers in his department, such as security staff, who have been laid off.
“A lot of them feel like there out they’re hanging in the wind and they don’t have anywhere else to go to,” Myers said.
“The process hasn’t been very compassionate.”
During question period, Myers said one of the security workers who was laid off was a classified employee and when he asked his manager whether he would be offered a package, the response he received was, ‘Export A or Player’s Light?’
“That’s not even close to compassion and I think that’s something this government struggles with is compassion,” Myers said.
“They want to make the big decisions and they want to throw it on the backs of the lowest levels of employees that really struggle out there and want to talk about compassion at the same time and, quite frankly, it’s a joke.”
Vessey said he has no reason to believe any employees were treated poorly when given their notice of dismissal.
“I have every faith in my staff that they treated these employees the best under the circumstances.”