Port Moody cuts casual and temporary workers

Union says cuts cause by COVID-19 pandemic affect some of the city's 'most precarious employees'

Port Moody is cutting 370 casual and temporary employees.

The announcement comes just two days after city council’s finance committee pared a previously planned tax increase of 3.62% down to 1.61%, and Mayor Rob Vagramov declared, “We are not losing any staff as a result of these reduction.” 

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According to a press release, layoff notices were issued on April 17 and affected employees will be paid up to April 30.

City manager Tim Savoie said the layoffs “are operational in nature” because of cancelled programs and events as well as temporary facility closures to comply with public health orders to limit the transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. He added they’re not a result of council’s budget discussions.

Savoie said the affected workers include fitness and recreation instructors, administrative clerks, theatre technicians, events workers, librarians and circulation assistants. Many work limited hours or on an on call basis.

But Christine Gervan, the president of CUPE Local 825 that represents 126 of the workers who lost their job, said they “are some of our most precarious employees.”

Savoie said the decision to cut workers wasn’t easy but “we must focus on delivering our core services and following the provincial health officer’s orders and recommendations to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.”

Earlier this month, Coquitlam cut approximately 800 auxiliary employees, while Port Coquitlam has cut 110 casual workers, along with 36 regular employees.

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