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City to end retirement bonus for employees in 2021

Last Updated Dec 17, 2019 at 9:47 pm MDT

Calgary City Council (CREDIT: Calgary City Council)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Calgary City Council has voted to end the mysterious retirement bonus paid out to city employees by Dec. 2021.

The decade long practice was brought to council’s attention back in 2018. City staff were tasked to engage with an outside HR consultant and review elements of a total compensation package for city employees.

Staff reported the retirement payments date back to 1964 with a payout averaging around $10,000, even though it was never detailed in most contracts.

Councillor Jeromy Farkas put forward a motion on Tuesday to end the payments in 2020 instead of 2021.

That motion was voted down 9-4 because city lawyers warned the risk of a lawsuit was extremely high because the bonus was detailed in certain unions’ collective agreement.

“The failure to address this through the collective bargaining process may result in unfair labour practice allegations, as well as, the possibility of successful court applications for injunctions and grievances,” Assistant city solicitor Jill Floen told council.

Farkas spoke shortly after the motion was voted down saying the information that was provided to council was confusing and inaccurate.

“I have to challenge the conflicting information that we have been provided in our documents,” said Farkas.

“It feels like almost every step of the way we are being given competing and out right contradictory information from administration.”

The move to end the payments in 2021 come at a cost, as the “golden handshake” costs the city around $4-million a year.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it would have been nice to end the payments early but it wouldn’t have been easy.

“If it’s not in the collective agreement in 21, it doesn’t exist anymore, as apposed to something we have to negotiate that is already in the collective agreement,” the Mayor said.