Accueil » 49-3 ( 1994) » Étude des déterminants de la rémunération des employés manuels dans les municipalités québécoises

Étude des déterminants de la rémunération des employés manuels dans les municipalités québécoises

Michel Tremblay et Denis Marcoux


Cette étude cherche à identifier les déterminants de la rémunération des employés manuels à l'échelle du secteur municipal québécois. L'examen de 60 municipalités réparties selon une stratification basée sur la population révèle que la rémunération est plus fortement reliée à la taille qu'à la capacité de payer. L'éloignement des centres urbains, l'ancienneté et le salaire régional moyen exercent également une influence indépendante sur la rémunération de ces employés municipaux. Le modèle permet d'expliquer jusqu'à 47 % des variations du salaire de base et 35 % des variations de l'enveloppe des avantages sociaux.


This article pursues three objectives: (a) to determine the global compensation for unionized, municipal, blue-collar employees — a category of workers only rarely studied up to now; (b) to develop a construct capable of measuring the municipal sector's size and capacity to pay; and (c) to determine the main predictors of the compensation for these municipal employees. The model for determining salaries is designed to measure the following dimensions: size and capacity to pay; job structure; human capital (seniority); external equity; and regional isolation.

Our research allowed us to isolate six units of measurement linked to size: local income; real estate evaluation; absolute property value; population; total municipal expenditures; and commercial property evaluation. The results of the factorial (varimax) analysis show the coefficients of the size-linked variables (factor 1 ) to exceed 0.90. The measurement of size used here is peculiar to the municipal sector since it groups under the same concept measurements for population, expenditures, income, and property evaluation.

As concerns the capacity to pay, a municipality's financial status is generally linked to its capacity to transfer operating costs. Our analyses indicate that in the municipal sector this capacity is reflected in three distinct concepts : fiscal yield; tax base; and regional income level. The fiscal-yield construct, which is composed of four indicators (factor 2, alpha = 0,82), assesses the yield a municipality manages to obtain from its tax base. The tax-base construct is composed of three indicators (factor 3, alpha = 0.85) linked to the wealth of the municipality. Finally, regional income, the last dimension of the capacity to pay, reflects the relative share of expenditures borne by local citizens (factor 4).

The general variables studied include a measurement of geographical isolation (distance in kilometres from Montreal); a measurement of human capital (years of service); a measurement of job structure (number of job categories); and a measurement of external equity (average salary in the region's public and parapublic sector).

This study is exclusively concerned with Quebec's municipal sector. A total of 60 Quebec municipalities were selected for analysis. Two aspects of compensation were explored, base salary and fringe benefits. Data on compensation were gathered by means of an exhaustive review of collective agreements. The bench-mark method was used to measure the base salary. Four blue-collar jobs were chosen as bench marks: (a) general worker; (b) dump truck driver; (c) operator of snow removal equipment and heavy machinery; and (d) vehicle mechanic. We calculated an average salary based on the wage schedules appended to collective agreements. As for fringe benefits, we decided to look at the package for the major holidays generally listed in the collective agreements. Four categories of holidays were selected: leave for social obligations; annual vacations; statutory holidays; and sick leave.

Results show that the model will explain 47% of the variations in base salary; 35% of the variations in fringe benefits; and 41 % of the variations in overall compensation. As concerns overall compensation, size exerts a strong positive influence and explains 12% of the variance. The influence of size is much stronger when the salary dimension is isolated. In fact, 24% of the variance in the base salary is explained by size alone. On the other hand, it would appear from the results that size has no influence on the fringe-benefit package.

As for the capacity to pay, wealth (tax basis) and regional income explain respectively 9% and 14% of the variance in salary. It is important to note that none of the capacity-to-pay constructs is linked to fringe benefits. The range of fringe benefits found in the municipalities studied is influenced neither by size, nor by the capacity to pay.

Based on the results we obtained, there does not appear to be any relationship between the degree of regional isolation and the base salary. This is, however, not the case for fringe benefits. Our analyses reveal that the farther removed a municipality is from large urban centres (in this case Montreal) the bigger the fringe-benefit package. The "regional isolation" variable explains more than 15% of the variations observed for fringe benefits. With regard to external equity, even though the influence of urban salaries is confined to fringe benefits, it still explains 12% of the variance. Results suggest a negative linear relationship, the higher the regional salary, the less likely municipalities are to offer generous fringe benefits. Our analyses also reveal that seniority has a positive and determining influence on fringe benefits (R2 = 8%) and on global compensation (R2 = 8%). Finally, it was not possible from our analyses to ascertain what influence the range of the job structure might have on the facets of compensation studied.

In sum, our results suggest that the neoclassical model (capacity to pay) and the managerial model (size) are not necessarily mutually exclusive; the two theses can coexist. However, the tenets of the managerialist school (size) receive more solid support. This study has shown that the base salary of municipal blue-collar workers is mainly influenced by the size of the municipality and, to a lesser degree, by wealth and regional income. The fringe-benefit package is influenced neither by size, nor by the capacity to pay. This facet of compensation is influenced instead by environmental factors such as geographical remoteness, average regional salary, and seniority.