CUPE sets the record straight
Quebec, Wednesday, May 11, 2016 – On the eve of the annual meeting of the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ), CUPE-Québec demonstrated this morning at a press conference on Parliament Hill that the government’s intention to attack the compensation of municipal sector employees with the Fiscal Pact is based largely on a manipulation of the results compiled by the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), cited in the November 2014 report of the budget review commission (Rapport de la Commission de révision permanente des programmes).
According to the ISQ study, the remuneration of municipal employees is 39% higher than that of Quebec government civil servants. In fact, the results of the study do show that the Quebec public administration is lagging behind the municipal sector. However, what the Commission’s report neglects to point out is that this same Quebec public administration is considerably behind other unionized workers in Quebec, in both the private and the public sector.
“By taking the fact that the Quebec public administration is paid 39.5% less and twisting it to say that the municipal sector is paid 39% more, the Commission’s report has committed a methodological error,” says Denis Bolduc, CUPE General Secretary.
In its own analysis provided to the journalists, CUPE demonstrated that the report has methodological flaws, which skew the results, notably:
- Salaries in the municipal sector are similar to those in the Public Enterprise sector, the Federal Administration sector and the Unionized Private sector, all deliberately ignored by the UMQ when quoting the ISQ study.
- The ISQ study overestimates municipal employers’ contributions to pension plans by 13.18%.
- The overall hourly remuneration rates do not match the results obtained by CUPE-Québec, results calculated from the collective agreements of its members: for certain jobs, the remuneration is from 2 to 56% lower than the amount calculated by the ISQ.
The ISQ study totally excludes municipalities of 25,000 or less, where 5,383 CUPE-Quebec members work, or 17.02% of a total of 31,600 members.
“Three other areas have been identified in our study as comparable with the municipal sector, namely the Federal Administration, Public Companies and Unionized Private Companies,” added Pierre-Guy Sylvestre, an economist with CUPE Quebec.
CUPE-Québec is asking the government to review its statistical bases so as not to commit the same error when assessing deficits in municipal sector pension plans. It will be recalled that Minister Moreau justified his Bill 3 (PL3) by citing deficits of such magnitude ($3.9 billion) that government intervention was necessary to ensure the continued existence of these plans.
CUPE-Québec had submitted a study that established these deficits at approximately $2.5 billion, based on actuarial valuations documented for each of the targeted regimes.
The Régie des rentes du Québec had finally admitted to CUPE in February 2015 that the real deficit for the 170 defined benefit pension plans in the municipal sector was actually $2.6 billion on December 31, 2013.
With a total of over 110,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents about 70% of the province’s municipal employees, or 31,600 members. CUPE is also present in the following sectors: health and social services, communications, education, universities, energy, Quebec government corporations and public agencies, urban and air transport, and the mixed sector.
CUPE Communications Service
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rboisrond @ scfp.qc.ca