Building cleaners in Vancouver have been told that their $12 an hour jobs are too expensive and that they should expect lay-offs by the end of October, says Unifor Western Director Scott Doherty.
The announcement, made in early September by commercial real estate giant Cadillac Fairview, threatens the jobs of nearly 150 unionized building cleaners, who service Vancouver’s Waterfront Centre and Pacific Centre. The workers, represented by Unifor Local 3000, will stage a rally near the Olympic torch today at 3:30 p.m. and will continue an information leaflet outside of the Waterfront Centre and other affected buildings following the rally. The union is demanding fair treatment and a living wage for all cleaners in the city.
What: Fairness for Cleaners Rally
Where: Canada Place (in front of the Olympic torch) and Waterfront Centre
When: Today: Wednesday October 2, 2013
Time: 3:30 p.m.
“Some of our members have been cleaning these buildings for decades and they earn wages that are already sub-standard in a city like Vancouver,” Doherty said. “To say that a $12.65 an hour job is not economically viable is just simply outrageous.”
Unifor members, among the highest paid private sector commercial building cleaners in the province, were told that their employer, Servatange (who currently holds the cleaning contract for the two Cadillac Fairview properties, among others), would not have their contract renewed at the end of the month and that service was not an issue, said Unifor British Columbia Area Director Gavin McGarrigle.
“Cadillac Fairview is playing one contractor against another by demanding lower costs, without any consideration that their actions are driving workers deeper into poverty,” McGarrigle said. “For savings that amount to just pennies per square foot, these vulnerable workers are forced to reapply for their own jobs under a new contractor paying them only $10.50 per hour.”
Unifor Local 3000 President Jean Van Vliet said the union will pressure Cadillac Fairview to reverse their decision and urge them to hold the wage rates consistent between contractors.
“These members are ready to stand up for what’s right and fair,” Van Vliet said. “This isn’t about Unifor members. This is about setting a new, higher standard for disadvantaged workers in this industry right across Canada.”
Contrary to the position of Cadillac Fairview, Unifor is committed to campaign to win living wages for cleaners, across the province. The Living Wage for Families Campaign (www.livingwageforfamilies.ca) pegs the living wage in Vancouver at $19.62 per hour, for a two-parent family with two children.
Unifor is also calling on the federal government to host a national Good Jobs Summit, to outline solutions to the rising precariousness of Canada’s job market. Unifor is committed to hosting the summit within the year, if the federal government fails to do so.
Unifor Local 3000 represents more than 500 building cleaners at Servantage.