Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay to lay off hundreds of staff: Union

The union representing hundreds of staff with the City of Thunder Bay tells CBC News that layoffs are coming.

CUPE Local 87 says layoffs will be temporary, but no other details have been provided by the city

The union representing hundreds of City of Thunder Bay staff says the city will be laying off workers in all areas. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

The union representing hundreds of staff with the City of Thunder Bay tells CBC News that layoffs are coming.

Dana Vacek, CUPE Local 87 president, said the city informed the union it was laying off staff in all areas.

Vacek said the city told the union the layoffs would be temporary, but beyond that, he has not received additional information.

He said the union estimates between 300 and 400 workers could be affected. The job changes include staff in sewer and water, as well as water and sewage treatment.

He said the union is concerned the city is not following the proper provisions of the collective agreement.

In a media release sent Wednesday afternoon, the city said it will cease non-essential services until further notice.

"Only people assigned to essential work will remain in the workplace, and where able people assigned to essential work will work from home," Norm Gale, the city manager, stated in the written release.

Gale said all city jobs would be protected, and as the situation with COVID-19 evolves, some staff may be deployed to other positions within the city.

"People will be paid this Friday as they normally are. Beyond that we are sorting out the details. We are working quickly to answer what we can. We understand this causes anxiety for our employees and their families. The protection of our employee's safety is paramount."

The city said essential services include, but are not limited to emergency services, including fire, EMS and police, water, wastewater and transit staff.

Employees at Pioneer Ridge, the planning and building division (for construction), as well as what the city calls "critical functions" like human resources, legal services, communications, and financial services will also still operate.

Where possible, employees will work from home, the city said.

Garbage and recycling collection will continue as normal.