When a "thank you" isn’t enough

Though marathon and heated debates are nothing new to the members of the Students’ Legislative Council, one is brewing that will hit a little closer to home for its members.

Under the current system, any Students’ Union commissioner is eligible for a maximum of $300 per month, awarded at the discretion of the Vice-President of the portfolio. At the Jan. 15 SLC meeting, some commissioners voiced concerns about possible conflicts of interest in this arrangement.

"There is a general feeling among commissioners that you have to stay on the good side of the VPs, because they are the ones who control their pay," said External Commissioner Nick Vuckovic. "Under the current system, it’s almost as if we are more employees of our executives than we are elected officials representing the students."

The issue has not historically been a problem, however some believe that it would be best to eliminate the potential for abuse.

"If you have problems like last year, with commissioners forming a shadow cabinet, and talk of impeachments, there could have been problems when the same people who you’re speaking out against are the ones who determine your salary," said Events Commissioner Ian Thorner.

Other commissioners feel the concerns are needless.

"It’s like any other workplace issue," said Events Commissioner Oliver Ho. "If you have a problem with your supervisor, you have to take it up with them. The process is pretty objective. All the executives meet to review the remuneration for each commissioner."

Vuckovic and Thorner are researching alternative methods of renumeration.

"Remuneration should be put into the hands of a neutral body," said Operations and Finance Commissioner Mark Counsell. "The SU does have a human resources manager on staff who would be able to handle it."

"Having this in the hands of someone independent from SLC would encourage more impartial debate," agreed Vuckovic.

There is also some concern that the amount of the honouraria may be insufficient for the time invested by the commissioner.

"In order to receive the maximum of $300 per month, a commissioner is expected to work at least 20 hours a week," said Counsell. "That works out to only $3.75 an hour."

Others don’t believe that the amount that commissioners are paid is a problem.

"The honouraria wasn’t intended to pay commissioners minimum wage," explained Ho. "This is a volunteer position, and the honouraria is just a token sum of money to say thank you for your time. Remuneration is just the money, there are other benefits that commissioners receive such as use of the SU office space and occasional access to shows [in the ballroom]."

Thorner and Vuckovic plan to readdress the issue at the Jan. 29 SLC meeting.

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