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Library workers not affected

As a result of facilities closures prompted by COVID-19 shutdowns, the Town of Pelham has laid off 22 staff, effective immediately. This represents roughly a quarter of the Town’s combined full- and part-time workforce of 95, a number that fluctuates seasonally.

Those furloughed include ten crossing guards, four rink attendants at the MCC, and eight hospitality staff, also at the community center. All of the affected positions are part-time.

Schools have been closed since the start of March Break, on March 16, and some observers say it is unlikely that they will reopen again until the autumn.

The community centre was shut down on March 16, and the rest of Pelham’s municipal facilities were closed to the public on March 17.

“Today Town administrators had a difficult task to perform,” Mayor Marvin Junkin told the Voice.

“It should be noted that these were lay-off notices, and not termination notices. It is hoped that as soon as this pandemic ends, which it will at some point, each one of these valued employees will be rehired.”

In an email notice to all Town staff, CAO David Cribbs said that as best as could be determined, letting so many staff go at once was unprecedented.

“Three weeks ago no one could have imagined this being a possibility,” wrote Cribbs, “let alone becoming a necessity and the situation remains fluid. While I cannot promise that more lay-offs will not be necessary, it is correct and truthful to say that no further lay-offs are planned at this time.”

Cribbs said that other adjustments were being made in Town operations, including “expedited” delivery of leased trucks in order to operate in one-person-per-vehicle fashion.

“Starting next week Public Works staff will be working in split shifts and their numbers will be partially augmented by staff from [Recreation, Culture, and Wellness]. This helps ensure that the Town can meet its various service obligations pertaining to water quality and road maintenance, while also maintaining employment.”

“The only way through this pandemic is by working together and remembering that the public is relying on us,” concluded Cribbs.

Meanwhile, the Pelham Public Library has been closed for two weeks. The Library Board had initially announced the system’s two branches would reopen on April 6. This now seems unlikely, given the declaration of emergency made by the province on March 17—to be reviewed on March 31.

Library staff continue to be paid.

Seventeen full- and part-timers are employed by the Library, whose budget is almost entirely funded by the Town.

Contacted by the Voice for comment, Library Board Chair Nicole Nolan responded that “most library staff are busy and able to work from home.”

Nolan said that no decisions have been made about layoffs.

“We anticipate having a closed special Library Board meeting next week, where there will be discussion about staffing.”

Updated March 27 to correct the number of laid-off rink attendants to four, not two.

 

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