Unicco Cleaner at Grant MacEwan University Says She was Sexually Assaulted Then Fired for Reporting the Incident

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2012) - Mercedesz Mursa says she was sexually assaulted while working at MacEwan Residence for Unicco Facility Services, and then was terminated when she reported the incident to her manager. Janosne, Mursa's mother, who was also working at the Residence, was also terminated after asking the same Unicco manager why he had not helped her daughter.

Mursa recounted her horrible experience at a press conference today in Edmonton. Her mother was there to support her, as well as members of the Justice for Janitors campaign and a member of the university faculty.

"He [Unicco manager] asked me if I had any witnesses," said Mursa. "When I said no, he told me 'I'm not going to fire anyone just because of you.'" According to Mursa the Unicco manager then told her to give her keys back to the other supervisor and go home. "He told me the job was finished for me," she said. "He told me do not come back here." Mursa says she was ordered off the premises and had to wait for the police outside, where she felt vulnerable to another attack.

Mursa's video testimony has been posted on www.EyeonUnicco.org, a website launched to help her find justice.

The Mursas have filed Human Rights and Occupational Health and Safety complaints.

Barbara Heather, an instructor in the Faculty of Arts and Science at MacEwan University, attended the press conference and says it's very important that MacEwan look into the very serious concerns that Mercedesz spoke about.

"I love working at MacEwan because it supports diversity and equality, and this could be damage that tradition," said Heather. "I am particularly concerned about any instance in which victims of sexual assault are further victimized when they try to reach out for help because this kind of response has a silencing effect and promotes a culture of fear."

Other cleaners also expressed their concerns about Unicco's alleged behaviour.

"I am concerned to hear about the struggles our brothers and sisters who work for Unicco are going through right now," said Tarik Accord, a member of the Justice for Janitors movement.

Earlier this week the Service Employees International Union filed an Unfair Labour Practice against Unicco in Hamilton, Ontario. The complaint says workers were illegally threatened with termination by their supervisor for trying to form a union.

"And now we are hearing about this horrible experience that Mercedesz has been through at MacEwan University," said Accord.

A letter outlining Mursa's concerns was sent to University President Dr. David W. Atkinson earlier in the day requesting a meeting and a full investigation. She wants to be reinstated with back pay, but says she can't return to work until her safety and that of her co-workers is ensured.

Copies of all the complaints and testimonies are available at www.EyeonUnicco.org.

For more information about Justice for Janitors, please visit www.JusticeforJanitors.ca.

The 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
Merryn Edwards