As many as 80 staff could be laid off at Thompson Rivers University late this year.
The post-secondary institution intends to send out layoff notices with four months’ notice, and management is meeting with approximately 80 support staff expected to be impacted beginning Wednesday, according to an internal letter sent to employees.
Meetings are expected to carry on through the week.
“This notice period, while understandably difficult for those affected, allows us to prepare for future uncertainty and we truly hope it simply is a precautionary step,” TRU executive director of human resources Larry Phillips said in the letter.
In an email, TRU vice-president for administration and finance Matt Milovick told KTW the university is considering layoff notices for Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members, but are not targeting any specific positions. He said faculty and department heads having been asked to identify positions for layoff based on potentially reduced work loads as a result of decreased enrolments in each of their respective areas.
While 80 notices are going out, there may not, in fact, be that many job losses as the university would be able to rescind the layoff notices should the fall enrolment and financial picture improve.
International enrolment come the fall semester, however, is currently expected to drop by about 30 per cent due to the pandemic making travel difficult, while domestic numbers are projected to take a five per cent hit.
TRU is projecting a $6-million deficit budget in 2021-2021 due to revenue losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an $18-million reversal from the $12-million surplus projected before the pandemic hit.
Milovick told KTW previously the university will probably be forced to make some reductions in the fall, the extent of which will depend on enrolment.
CUPE Local 4879 represents TRU employees who work as system analysts, accountants, cashiers, bookstore clerks, registration and admissions clerks, maintenance and utility staff, library technicians, ancillary staff and open-learning support staff.
TRU is having similar discussions regarding layoffs with its other employee groups, according to the letter.
Milovick said layoffs are also being considered for non-contrat managers, but there have been no notices issued for this group at this point and will depend on enrolment figures as it will for all employee groups.
There are no layoffs planned for TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA) members at this time, Milovick said.
The university is also exploring other options in lieu of layoffs, including furloughs, job-sharing and retirement options and government programs, the letter stated.
“The reason we are moving ahead with layoff notices for support staff is due to the longer notice period required under the CUPE collective agreement,” Phillips said.
—This story was updated June 3 with comments from TRU vice-president for administration and finance Matt Milovick