OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 24, 2014) - Cleaners employed by Evripos Janitorial Limited in Ottawa said they are ready to strike if negotiations fail to improve their working conditions at various government buildings.

Evripos employees gathered on the weekend to discuss a plan on how to move forward in negotiations. The workers strongly expressed the need for a livable wage and benefits in order to raise their families with dignity.

"Right now our wages are not on par with the increased cost of living. That is why we are demanding benefits and salaries that will allow us to live with dignity," said Jorge Hurtado Maltez, an Evripos employee at 170 Tunney's Pasture Driveway. "When we're forced to work two or three jobs just to survive, we have no time left to spend with our families."

Evripos is contracted to clean various federal government buildings in the National Capital Region. The employees from 100, 150, 170 Tunney's Pasture Driveway as well as 580 and 588 Booth Street are gearing to begin negotiations next month when their contract is set to expire.

The workers expect the negotiations to be difficult, especially in light of what's happening to cleaners on the other side of the Rideau River at 700 Montreal Road, where workers at the site are preparing to take action against Evripos.

Evripos was recently awarded the cleaning contract at 700 Montreal Road, but has refused to recognize the workers' right to collectively bargain. The workers are unionized members of the Service Employees International Union Local 2. They believe Evripos is employing a strategy to silence them by removing the majority of workers from the building and placing them in non-union sites.

Over 1,500 cleaners in Ottawa have joined Justice for Janitors, a campaign of SEIU Local 2, and want to follow in the footsteps of their Toronto area counterparts. After launching a campaign in 2007, J4J members in Toronto now enjoy family benefits including a prescription drug plan and dental plan.

"Having benefits will create a better life for us and help workers get out of poverty," said Wossene Brehanu, an Evripos employee at 100 Tunney's Pasture.

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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.

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Alain Lajoie