Telus Corp. has informed around 150 call centre employees based in Ontario they must relocate by October, apply for another role or agree to be laid off.

The union representing those workers, United Steelworkers Local 1944, says it was informed Tuesday that affected employees would have the option of working in Montreal, calling it a “backdoor termination” by Telus in an attempt to reduce the company’s head count.

The move is part of a reorganization announced internally on Wednesday which will require around 1,000 call centre employees across the country, who have been working remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic began, to return to the office three days a week.

Telus says the customer service agents won’t have a local office to return to because it is closing its Barrie location, which housed its Ontario contact centre, “following a thoughtful review of our real estate.”

Spokeswoman Brandi Merker says those who accept relocation will receive financial support, while the voluntary separation package being offered exceeds the requirements of the Canada Labour Code.

The Vancouver-based company announced last August it was cutting 6,000 jobs in order to adapt to a “rapidly transforming industry,” saying issues such as regulation and competition had prompted the need to reduce its payroll.