Over 2,000 Toronto-Area Private Sector Cleaners in Strike Position

Negotiations With Seven Cleaning Companies Continue Today but Parties Are Far Apart

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - April 26, 2016) -  A fair raise, paid sick days and improved health benefits are some of the basic demands that members of Justice for Janitors have tabled at negotiations with their employers. To date, the cleaning companies have said no, and in fact, have demanded concessions in several areas.

The 2,000 plus cleaners, members of Service Employees International Union Local 2, have been in negotiations with Alpine Building Maintenance, Bee Clean Building Maintenance, C&W Services, Commercial Cleaning Services, Compass Canada, Hallmark Housekeeping Services, and Magic Maintenance since early March.

The cleaners work in close to 200 locations all over Toronto, including large commercial office properties, retail malls, post-secondary institutions and other sites.

Janitors packed into a conference room at the Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre on Saturday April 16th to get an update on the status of negotiations from the bargaining committee. The meeting concluded with an emphatic strike mandate.

Workers are standing up for fair raises. Poverty wages are not good enough, they say, and the yearly increase of 15 cents an hour the companies are offering is not enough. Cleaners say they need significant increases so they can provide for their families. Last summer in Ottawa, in a market with far less resources than Toronto, cleaners won raises of 50 cents a year in their contract negotiations. Currently, most private sector cleaners in Toronto make between $11.85 and $12.15 per hour, while a minority make as much as $13.40.

At a time when awareness around the importance of sick days is increasing in our society, the cleaning companies have also refused to budge on the issue. Cleaners in Ottawa also won those in last year's agreement, which raises the question: "why not in Toronto, Canada's largest city?"

Workers are also seeking better job protection in the form of better recall language and for eye and vision care to be included in their health benefits, a basic item many need but very few can afford when paid poverty wages.

After today, one more bargaining session is scheduled for May 5th. If the companies fail to table an agreement that provides a fair wage increase, paid sick days, improved health benefits and better job protection, workers could be on picket lines as soon as May 9th.

Contact Information:

Diego Mendez