Media Advisory: '24 Sussex Cleaner' Goes on Record About Cleanmatters' Employment Practices; Cash and No Overtime Pay

Legal Complaint Filed Cites Threats and Intimidation Against Single Mother of Four at Government Building in Downtown Ottawa

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 20, 2011) - A written statement provided by Zahra Bulle, a seven year employee of Cleanmatters Janitorial Services Limited, revealed that she was paid cash in an envelope for her work at the Prime Minister's residence in November and December of last year.

Bulle was prepared to testify at a press conference, but was afraid to attend after receiving a call from the company's president this morning. The statement she had prepared was read for the gathered media.

"I was surprised that I was paid in cash and I asked about the form of payment," says Bulle's statement. "My supervisor said it was a private contract and that they only pay cash." Bulle was uncomfortable with the arrangement and her work at 24 Sussex ended after a few weeks.

Bulle, a Canadian citizen who emigrated from Somalia ten years ago, is a mother of four who is struggling to make ends meet despite working full time. "After seven years of working hard to get ahead, I feel I have only fallen behind," the statement continues. Bulle goes to Ontario support services when she needs to buy medicine or have a dental check up.

While working at both 24 Sussex and a government property on Booth St., where she normally works, Bulle worked in excess of fifty hours per week but was not paid overtime premiums as required by provincial law. A complaint with the Ministry of Labour will be filed sometime next week.

Ottawa Centre incumbent Paul Dewar, who met yesterday with Bulle, provided a written statement. "Zahra Bulle is one of my constituents," it begins. "I have worked with hardworking Canadians like Zahra, and the unions, for years in support of their efforts to achieve fair treatment for property services, cleaning and janitorial workers in Ottawa." The statement says the Government must be held to the highest standards of labour protection.

In addition, a legal complaint was filed this morning against Cleanmatters (which also operates as Dustmoon Maintenance Ltd.). According to the complaint, Bulle was approached by management and told the president of the company "did not want any employees speaking with individuals from the Union." The complaint goes on to state management indicated the president would "terminate any employee found to have been communicating with the Union."

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Service Employees International Union is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and two million workers across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

Contact Information:

SEIU Local 2
Diego Mendez