By David Bush
A couple of dozen janitors and their supporters protested outside the corporate headquarters of Dream Office REIT, one of Canada’s largest estate companies, in downtown Toronto on Tuesday. The lunchtime rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 2 in an effort to shed light on the company’s poor labour record. The companies that Dream REIT have chosen to contract out its cleaning services to have been accused of numerous labour violations such as not retaining when a contract was flipped because workers wanted to join a union, paying below the minimum wage and not paying proper severance and termination pay.
Amphora Maintenance, for instance is accused of not retaining 12 cleaners, who had a combined 60 years of experience, after a contract changes because they wanted to join a union. Another cleaning company, Impact Cleaning Services have been accused of failing to pay workers the provincial minimum wage and not paying vacation pay. The money sought by the 20 complaint totals almost $50,000.
The rally was the second such action in as many weeks. The workers are hoping to pressure the company to rehire the fired cleaners, recognize their union, ensure labour rights and better standards for all of its workers regardless of which company wins the contract to clean the buildings.
I spoke to two cleaners, Mila Viernes and John Bantegui, about the struggle with Dream REIT and how it has impacted them.
You can find information about SEIU Local 2’s ongoing Justice for Janitors campaign here.