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Photo: Rame Abdulkader.

Staff claims some were given less than three days notice for termination  

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) held a staff meeting on Feb. 25 to warn employees of the union’s businesses to expect wide-scale layoffs, an SFUO staff member told the Fulcrum. Their identity has been verified by the Fulcrum and made anonymous to protect their job.

SFUO acting president Paige Booth claimed in a public Facebook post on March 1 that the planned lay-offs came in response to the University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) rejection of the SFUO’s transition plan that would see the two organizations merged into a single non-profit.

“We told UOSU that if a plan wasn’t in place very soon we have been advised that we have no choice but to start a process we want to avoid, which would include layoffs and other steps we don’t want to take,” stated Booth.

“In the all staff meeting they told us that everyone would be receiving termination notices,” the staff member said in an interview with the Fulcrum. “They told us it would be sometime over the next month, and that they could not give us specifics since it would be individual to each person.”

This development follows accusations by the incoming UOSU that the SFUO was liquidating assets and businesses instead of transferring them to the new union. Booth told the Fulcrum that the UOSU’s accusations were untrue, and that the SFUO had not liquidated any assets.  

The staff member told the Fulcrum that at least two supervisory positions in the SFUO’s Foot Patrol had already been terminated, in addition to at least three other employees.

A screenshot of an SFUO employee’s layoff notice

“Before reading week they held a meeting, and told us they didn’t want to lay anyone off. But then this Monday they told everyone they would be getting notice.”

However, the UOSU claimed that they received no contact from the SFUO between their initial transition meeting and the layoffs.

“The UOSU team has repeatedly reached out to the SFUO since our initial meeting on Feb. 15 and did not receive a reply until Feb. 28,”  a UOSU representative wrote in an email to the Fulcrum.

The SFUO remains the sole operator of student services at the U of O until April 30, according to their interim agreement. The agreement stipulated that they could not take any action that would reduce the availability of these services.

However, the SFUO staff member also alleged that the SFUO was drawing on money earmarked for specific student services including Foot Patrol and the Racialized and Indigenous Students Experience Centre to pay for employee severance, and the union’s various legal fees.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.