Nearly two dozen food services employees are out of work while the labour dispute between University of Northern B.C. and its faculty continues.
When picket lines went up on March 5, 23 staff members were laid off.
This was "absolutely" a direct result of the job action, said food services director Willie Lum.
The majority of those laid off were full-time staff, employed by the Chartwells division of Compass Group Canada.
Of the four campus dining operations – Tim Hortons, Stacker's Deli, the dining hall and catering services – three are currently closed with 12 staff and five managers still on board.
"It's just the dining hall that's open right now, reason being that the students living in residence, they're on a mandatory meal plan and they paid for their entire year and they need to eat," Lum said.
Lum said every employee will have their jobs back as soon as the picket lines come down, though if the job action turns into a long-term situation, they may lose employees who have decided to find jobs elsewhere.
Layoffs are a typical course of action in the slower summer months, Lum said, but not to this extent.
"In the summer we still open Tim's and the deli, so this is much larger. We do catering in the summertime as well," he said.
Some may have open unemployment insurance claims to fall back on if they were part of the summer layoffs, but for others, there's a waiting period to get through.
"A lot of these employees are not getting anything right now until they get their two-week waiting period for EI," Lum said.
Food services employees are also union members, part of Unite Here local 40.
Some have been supporting the striking members of the UNBC Faculty Association on the picket line, as mentioned on the faculty association's Twitter account.
But those who are still at work were targeted in a recent post on the website for Canadian Union for Public Employees local 3799, representing UNBC's support staff.
"We have no idea why they are not honouring the picket line and why they are deliberately making the situation last longer than it has to," said the post, dated March 10.