Casual staff employed at La Trobe University will lose their jobs in two weeks if their positions are deemed 'non-essential', due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The university has confirmed it will pay all casual staff until the end of the month, but from May 1 only those employees whose positions are considered 'essential' by the relevant senior executive group member will retain their jobs.
A spokesperson said all universities were presented with challenges at the current time, and the financial difficulties facing La Trobe were "severe".
The forecast estimates for 2020 indicated a shortfall of between $120 million and $150 million, the spokesperson said, and while the guaranteed Commonwealth Grant Scheme and Higher Education Loan Program funding would offset about $15 million of this shortfall, there was still a significant gap.
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Cutting 'non-essential' casual positions was among a number of cost-saving and staffing measures the university was introducing, the spokesperson said.
"We are working across the university to assess potential alternative opportunities for those deemed 'non-essential' in their current roles," the La Trobe spokesperson said.
The university was unable to specify the number of casual employees in Bendigo who might be affected, as "the assessment of each and every case is still being worked through".
"The university is and will continue to seek every possible avenue of support to enable it to keep as many of our staff employed as we can," the spokesperson said
"This includes assessing our eligibility for the Jobkeeper scheme, which we are doing at present."
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Virginia Mansel Lees, the president of the National Tertiary Education Union's la Trobe branch, said the union did not want casual staff to lose jobs.
Casual and fixed-term staff made up a substantial portion of the country's university workforce, she said, at about 60 to 70 per cent.
Ms Mansel Lees said cutting casuals would result in the loss of skilled and trained staff, which the university would be "scrounging around" to replace at the end of the crisis.
"We feel concerned for the casuals, because they're in a most precarious position, and they won't be able to get work elsewhere," she said.
Ms Mansel Lees said the union believed all casual staff had to be retained until at least the end of the semester.