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Three SUS staff dismissed suddenly over email

On April 28, the Student Union Society (SUS) laid off one permanent staff position and terminated two student officer positions by email.

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By Megan Lambert (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: May 20, 2015

Following the instalment of a new executive team in the new Student Union Building, three positions were laid off.

On April 28, the Student Union Society (SUS) laid off one permanent staff position and terminated two student officer positions by email.

The facilities director position was in charge of handling all things Student Union Building (SUB), from contracts to ordering furniture. Previous office administrator and long-time SUS employee Megan Zacharias took on the position, but was laid off shortly after moving into her new office space in the SUB.

According to an anonymous source, the layoff is due to a major deficit in the SUS budget. However, President Thomas Davies says more facilities staff positions will open for Fall 2015.

“There will be additional student staff hired to help with the facilities in general. Much like front desk [staff], our facilities team will have positions posted at some point over the summer,” he says, calling it “just a sort of a re-organization.”

When approached for a statement regarding the facilities director layoff, Davies said he would not comment on HR-related items.

SUS does not have a specific firing, termination, or layoff policy — but Davies says SUS abides by all provincial legislation, which would include the BC Employment Standards Act and the BC Societies Act.

The advocacy officer and engagement officer, who both worked under VP external Sukhi Brar, were notified of their termination by SUS executives via email the same day of their termination. According to one officer, Alex*, they were let go because of a change in their availability. The original agreement stated the officers had to be available for up to 20 hours per week; Alex says whether this meant time spent in the office or working in general was unclear.

“It was implied — if not directly stated — that we could work from wherever we wanted to work, as long as we were getting our stuff done,” Alex says.

According to Alex, there was no communication between the officers and SUS about their availability being problematic. However, SUS was acting within their rights to terminate an employee without notice in their three-month probationary period.

Alex says even so, they would have preferred to have met in person: “If they had a conversation with me — totally different story.”

As for the deficit, Davies did not confirm that the layoff is due to a loss in the SUS operating budget. He says if there were changes in finances, it would fall to VP internal Ricky Coppola to revise the budget.

“As for the information right now, we don’t have a comment. When there is information available, you can expect that at a board meeting,” Davies says.

The next SUS Board of Directors meeting will be held next Thursday, May 28.

*Name changed to protect anonymity of the source.

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