The controversy over senior executive pay and bonuses at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is just the tip of the iceberg, warned the president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.
“Exorbitant compensation for senior post-secondary officials is an issue across Alberta,” said Guy Smith, President of AUPE, which represents more than 9,000 support staff at colleges and universities in the province. “At a time when the government is mulling cuts to public services, including education, it needs to examine the mixed messages it’s sending to the public.”
It was revealed this week that some vice-presidents at SAIT received 26 per cent salary increases in 2011, along with $58,000 performance bonuses. Outgoing president Irene Lewis’s salary increased nine per cent, from $224,000 to $245,000, along with a bonus and retirement allowance worth a combined $346,000.
An analysis of the province’s post-secondary presidents’ pay in 2011, conducted by AUPE last spring, showed that nearly 0two-thirds were paid more than Prime Minister Stephen Harper. University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera made more than $1 million in salary, bonuses and non-cash benefits, more than triple Harper’s total compensation, which according to the Associated Press was $315,000.
“At the same time, these presidents plead poverty to their front-line staff during collective bargaining,” said Smith. “Meanwhile, students face ever-increasing costs, with many taking on crushing debt loads. When these groups see the excessive compensation that senior executives receive, they naturally feel disrespected.”
Smith added: “These contradictory signals can profoundly damage morale among both staff and students, and shake taxpayers’ confidence in the system. It’s a province-wide problem and it’s something Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk needs to address.”
For more information, contact:
Guy Smith, President, AUPE: (780) 265-2294
Andrew Hanon, AUPE communications: (780) 930-5218