Managers axed at OC Transpo

A shakeup in senior management at OC Transpo is costing taxpayers more than half a million dollars in severance pay.

A handful of managers were axed as part of a major re-organization announced by general manager John Manconi on Monday. The buyout: $650,000.

Manconi told reporters at City Hall he’s “highly sensitive to the costs.”

“When I took the decisions into consideration I weighed those factors into it, because I respect that every nickel that flows through this place comes from the taxpayer and the transit users, and we need to weigh that against the pros and cons of moving forward,” said Manconi.

The dismissed list includes: Larry Atkinson from transit maintenance, Laurie Blackstone in transit operations, Vincent Patterson from marketing and strategic development, security chief Kim Weston-Martin, and Jane Wright in customer service and innovation.

Jim Greer is filling Atkinson’s shoes and Troy Charter replaces Blackstone, while James Babe takes over transit safety.

Acting managers were chosen based on Manconi’s philosophy of bringing trust and respect to Transpo.

The union representing bus drivers and maintenance workers is applauding the changes.

“I think it’s a good move,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 president Garry Queale.

Getting rid of “dead wood” will be a “morale booster,” for the rank and file, said Queale, adding “there could be more work to do.”

His membership had beef with Atkinson over changes to tool boards and scheduling, including forcing staff to work evenings and weekends after 25 years of having them off, said Queale.

“You have to be a people person,” he said.

Transit commission chair Diane Deans said she was informed of the layoffs on Sunday.

“Mr. Manconi felt that he needed to make changes to his management team to achieve the transit commission’s ultimate goal,” said Deans.

“Happy customers, happy employees. And that has been a considerable concern of mine, that we haven’t managed to get there yet.”

Manconi trimmed the fat a little more than two months into the job.

Former GM Alain Mercier, who was fired Feb. 22, is believed to have close ties with all or most of those let go.

On the other hand, manager of transit design Pat Scrimgeour is getting a promotion of sorts.

He’ll be leading the planning and reporting team for transit service, which includes coordinating service adjustments once light rail plans move forward.

Manconi said he isn’t planning any other major changes to the management structure.

-with files from Jon Willing

kelly.roche@sunmedia

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/04/30/managers-axed-at-oc-transpo

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