Unifor rallies across the country for cleaners


TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - Unifor members rallied across Canada today in support of office cleaners in Vancouver and to push for living wages for all workers.

"A crime against workers in Vancouver is a crime against workers here in Toronto and right across the country," Unifor National President Jerry Dias told a noon rally outside Toronto's TD Centre in the heart of the city's financial district.

Dias pledged to take on Cadillac Fairview and others exploiting low wage contract workers. That effort has already begun, with Unifor's Good Jobs Revolution to push for decent jobs in Canada and a sustainable future for our young people. Dias pledged to host a Good Jobs Summit next year, bringing all stakeholders together to find solutions to the current jobs crisis.

"We stand for all contract and precarious workers," Dias told the rally.

The TD Centre is owned by Cadillac Fairview, which also owns the Waterfront and Pacific Centre buildings in Vancouver, where 150 cleaners are being thrown out of work today in favour of a cheaper contractor.

The cleaners - members of Unifor Local 3000 - make $12.50 an hour, and are losing their jobs to a contractor paying as little as $10.50 an hour, with few benefits. A living wage in Vancouver has been pegged at $19.92 an hour, according to a recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The cleaners and supporters also planned a noon rally outside Cadillac Fairview's corporate offices in Vancouver today demanding that the company reverse its decision.

"Cadillac Fairview can afford to pay these workers a living wage," said BC Area Director Gavin McGarrigle, noting that the company reported a $1-billion profit last year.

Rallies were also held outside Cadillac Fairview buildings in Calgary (Chinook Centre), Winnipeg (Polo Park Shopping Centre), Ottawa (234 Laurier Ave. West) and Kitchener (Fairview Park Mall).

Beyond the rallies, Cadillac Fairview is facing other pressure to treat the cleaners fairly. In a letter to Dias, Ontario Teachers' Federation President Julie Pauletig pledged to work with the powerful Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which owns shares in Cadillac Fairview, to push the company to pay its cleaners a living wage.

"We are all troubled by the diminishing wages for workers that are already the lowest paid," Pauletig wrote.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 300,000 workers in every sector of the Canadian Economy. Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 with the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions.

Rally locations:

  • Vancouver, 609 Granville St.
  • Calgary, Chinook Centre, 6455 Macleod Trail SW
  • Winnipeg, Polo Park Shopping Centre, 1485 Portage Ave.
  • Toronto, TD Centre, , 66 Wellington St. West
  • Ottawa, 234 Laurier Ave. West
  • Kitchener, Fairview Park Mall, 2960 Kingsway Dr.