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Arbitrators give 16% wage hike to 911 dispatchers

Dispatchers at the city's 911 dispatch centre will get a series of pay hikes backdated to Jan. 1, 2012 — but not as much as they were asking.

After arbitration, it was ruled that the emergency dispatch members in the Brandon Professional Firefighters’/Paramedics’ Association will receive three annual increases of 3.4 per cent for 2012–14 and will also get an additional five per cent next year.

That adds up to 15.2 per cent over the four years, but compounded it is slightly more than a 16 per cent raise.

That's more than the four two-per cent raises that the city had offered, but is substantially less than what the dispatchers were asking. They had been looking for a 22 per cent raise in the first year, backdated to 2012, followed by four per cent raises each year from 2013–15.

The new contract will affect about 28 union members in the dispatch centre, which provides 911 service for Brandon as well most of the province outside of Manitoba.

"The arbitrator’s decision is binding and, therefore, the city of Brandon will respect and apply the award as per the ruling," said Linda Poole, the city's deputy director of human resources and contract negotiator.

City manager Scott Hildebrand hinted that they would try to cover some of the wage hikes by renegotiating with rural areas covered by the Brandon dispatch centre.

"The city of Brandon must be responsible in ensuring that the residents of Brandon are not subsidizing the cost of providing contracted dispatch service to other communities," Hildebrand said. "We will undertake a thorough analysis of how this recent arbitration ruling might impact our bottom line and, after that review, will bring forward our analysis and recommendations to Brandon City Council for a decision."

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