By Laura Woodward
Anum Syed’s job went from parttime to no-time.
The third-year business technology student started her cashier job at a Target location in Brampton when it opened in April 2014.
But on Jan. 15, Target Corporation announced that it would close all 133 Canadian stores because of its lack of profi tability in the Canadian market – leaving 17,600 employees jobless, including Syed.
Syed worked at Target during university breaks and the summer.
“I take a leave-of-absence when school begins – until April and then go back in May. But I guess I won’t be going back,” Syed says.
Syed was sitting in class when she heard of the retailer’s exit, not from her employer, but from a news article.
“I was shocked. I just thought it was a joke,” Syed says. “All the Target employees have a WhatsApp group (for work conversations) and everyone was talking about it.”
Syed says that she and other employees had heard that some Target locations hadn’t been profitable, but didn’t expect all locations to go under.
An employee meeting, what Target calls a “huddle,” was held to discuss what’s next.
But Syed says that her employer hasn’t been too clear on what the future holds for the employees, adding that she fi nds the majority of information about Target from news sources.
“They haven’t been clear on what they’re going to do with people who are on a leave-of-absence, but I have a friend that works in Human Resources and from what they’ve told me is that I’m going to get a full 16-week pay [as the employment severance] – depending on the average of my last paycheck,” Syed says.
A second-year business management student and Target employee of two years – who requested to remain anonymous – didn’t hear anything about severance pay.
“What Target should have done is provided some kind of severance for employees instead of this notice of termination that some of the media misinterpreted as severance. The fact is that many employees will have to work all, or most of, the four-month-noticeperiod is unfair to all of us,” he said.
But these students aren’t the only ones struggling with upcoming unemployment – 100 current Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) students were employed by Target, according to Alexander Waddling, who works at the Ryerson Career Centre.
Anthony Hopkins, director of TRSM, sent out a letter to all TRSM alumni employed by Target.
“After hearing about the decision by Target Canada to cease operations in Canada, I wanted to let our alumni that are currently employed at Target Canada know my team and I are here to support you in your career transition if needed and will be organizing events and opportunities to assist you in your transition,” Hopkins wrote in the letter.
In some Target locations, the liquidation process has already begun.
But all stores must undergo liquidation no later than May 15.
In the meantime, Syed hopes to be employed by Target’s retailer replacement.
“I haven’t really heard of anything yet,” Syed says. “I did hear about how Sears, how they might be hiring, so I might try that. But as of right now, I’m jobless.”