Justice Minister Darin King says the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees is misleading people with her comments about cuts to the department in last week's budget.
King said Tuesday that it's been standard practice since December 2011 to ask sheriff's officers to volunteer for overtime work on weekends.
King said the recent budget had no impact on the policy.
Cuts ironic, NAPE president says
Carol Furlong, president of NAPE, said the layoffs are counter-productive because it means sheriffs are working overtime on weekends to ensure there is enough staff.
She said a weekend court clerk was also laid off, meaning those duties will need to be filled by weekday staff working overtime as well.
"It makes no sense to me that you're going to bring somebody in on overtime wages to fill in for someone you just laid off because you're trying to save money," she said.
Furlong said the people who have not been laid off are being given much larger workloads to make up for the loss of staff.
"This whole issue of job cuts is all-consuming to our membership, and it's a very significant issue," Furlong said.
"The morale and the feelings of sadness because their workers or coworkers are gone — it's having a devastating effect on the whole public service."
The justice department has been 147 job cuts after last week's budget, and another 52 vacant positions will not be filled.