Friday, November 22, 2013

Careful, your indifference is showing

Daily Gleaner

EDITORIAL

22 November 2013

We are having a hard time understanding why our sheriff’s officers are being treated as receptionists.

For well over a year, the New Brunswick Union has been waiting for an answer to that question, and it continues to wait for the provincial government’s response.

Here are the facts: back in the 1990s, a civil servant, who we might say was ill-informed, decided that sheriff’s officers — the men and women who transfer prisoners, manage juries, guard courthouses and supervise detainees — would be classified as ASL2 level, which is described as “reception-like duties.”

Like we said, someone was ill-informed, and we’re being gracious here.

So the union decided these much-abused peace officers deserved a higher classification to ASL4 level, which also comes with a nice pay increase.

To do that, the union followed the process. It filed a “position description questionnaire” to justify the change, as required by the province’s classification review policy. It began the process in August 2011, and filed the final version in June 2012.

That’s 16 months ago, and there’s been no decision. That’s pretty slack on the part of the government. But wait — there’s more. Under the government’s classification review policy, it must be completed within 60 days. So now we have a very tardy provincial government breaking its own rules. We’re at about 480 days.

There is clearly ample justification for the reclassification of sheriff’s officers. They are being shortchanged, and have been for years. The added indignation is the utter indifference the province has shown in dealing with this request, since the facts suggest it hasn’t been doing much to deal with it.

Justice Minister Troy Lifford finally answered a letter the union wrote last month, in which he said the department is working on it. Well, that’s nice to know.

When The Daily Gleaner contacted his department, he issued this emailed statement: “We value the work that the men and women in our sheriff’s services do daily on behalf of New Brunswickers.

“I am aware of this particular issue, and it is my understanding that the reclassification decision is in its final stages, and the outcome will be communicated to employees in the near future.”

With all due respect, Mr. Lifford, if your department valued the work of sheriff’s officers, perhaps we would not be writing this editorial.

We look forward to your decision — very soon.