MONTREAL -- Loto-Quebec's financial situation after confinement does not justify its job cuts, according to the union that represents the workers.

Quebec's government workers union (SPGQ) is denouncing above all the reduction in the workweek imposed on its approximately 470 members last week, for a period of six months.

The employees in question work on Loto-Quebec's legal team as well as in IT, communications, sales and marketing, finance and real estate.

They saw their workweek go from 35 to 28 hours - and their income decrease by 20 per cent with just a few days' notice, one worker said.

SPGQ president Line Lamarre claims that the publicly-owned company is seeking to save $5 million without being in any financial difficulty.

"Loto-Quebec does not run deficits. Loto-Quebec only makes less income," she said.

Minister of Finance Eric Girard's last budget tabled before confinement was counting on a contribution of $1.37 billion from Loto-Quebec this year.

"While the employees are being cut, there are contracts that are subcontracted. It is not because there is a lack of jobs in Loto-Quebec. It is not because Loto-Quebec is short of money. It is because the company want to ensure that the profits will remain," said Lamarre.

The cuts also mean that certain workers are being called upon to work overtime, while the company continues its gradual reopening.

Lamarre said that she understands that temporary layoffs were necessary due to casinos and gaming rooms closing, but the other cuts could, in her view, have been avoided.

The union president is denouncing the decision that runs contrary to the collective agreement, made without prior discussion with the SPGQ who, according to her, could have sought volunteers to switch to a reduced schedule or take early retirement.

Loto-Quebec did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the situation on Friday afternoon.

Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, the company also terminated the contracts of certain supernumerary employees and temporarily laid off 2,250 workers in casinos and gaming halls.

A salary freeze is currently imposed on managers, and no bonus will be paid to them for the current fiscal year.

The Hilton Lac-Leamy, Casino de Charlevoix, Casino de Mont-Tremblant, Salon de jeux de Québec and Salon de jeux de Trois-Rivières reopened this week. The Casino du Lac-Leamy will follow on July 23 and the Casino de Montréal on August 3.

After a break of around four months, the network of video lottery terminals and Kinzo machines were also relaunched.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2020.