The Canadian Association of Professional Employees has filed a labour grievance against Human Resources and Skills Development Canada over how the federal department is trimming staff.
So far, some 3,500 employees at HRDSC have received notices that their job may be affected by coming layoffs.
In some cases, employees are placed into a contest for their own job, in some cases competing with fellow employees, and possibly with their supervisor.
CAPE president Claude Poirier said that among his members, some 110 economists must compete for 60 positions.
"Instead of managing their problem, they've decided to create a competition that reminds me of some sort of a Hunger Game," said Poirier.
Supervisors now competing for same jobs
Poirier said workers from two different levels are being lumped into the same competition, creating what he says is an uneven playing field.
"What kind of recommendation will you get in your file if they have to evaluate the quality of your work for the past two, three years, if your own boss will be competing for that same job?" asks Poirier.
Peter Lawrence works in the department and said the mood is glum.
"I'm OK, but I'm sympathizing with my colleagues, those who've been affected, because we're all one, we're all the same. You know, it's a sad story," said Lawrence.