Category Archives: Press Releases

Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

MEDIA RELEASE June 28, 2012

Harper’s “Cheap Labour” Agenda: Unemployed Workers and Migrant Workers Targeted

TORONTO, ON—Drastic changes have been made to Employment Insurance (EI) and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In particular, unemployed workers and migrant workers will be forced into lower wages. These aggressive measures are part of an ongoing “cheap labour” agenda from the Harper government – a race to the bottom where workers continue to be squeezed more and more.

“The economic crisis has left working people more vulnerable than ever and these changes will make things worse,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All labour-community coalition.

The coalition has launched a new campaign to fight these regressive measures. “We want
Parliament to fix EI by improving eligibility and increasing duration of benefits, and stop letting employers get away with taking advantage of migrant workers,” said Ng.

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City Council speaks up for cleaners


April 12, 2012
City Council speaks up for cleaners, votes to review contracting out of cleaning services

Toronto, ON – The Justice & Dignity for Cleaners campaign won an important victory at City Hall yesterday when Council voted 29-12 to prevent City Manager from awarding contracts for cleaning service without Council approval.

The decision affirms Council authority over reviewing and extending the cleaning contract for police stations already awarded to Impact Cleaning by City Management in February this year. Impact Cleaning is the same company that was previously found in violation of the City’s Fair Wage Policy and underpaying vulnerable workers, including undocumented workers.

For months, hundreds of City of Toronto cleaners have been facing the threat of job loss as they began to receive notice that cleaning in City Facilities would be contracted out. For cleaners in the public and private sectors, it makes a difference to see City Council come to terms with the reality of contract cleaning, which includes routine exploitation of vulnerable workers and layers of subcontracting that help cleaning companies evade their obligations as employers.

“Newcomers and immigrants are the most vulnerable people in this city. It’s not only about money, it’s making sure that the companies we are dealing with respect their employees,” said Councillor Ana Bailão during the Council meeting. Bailão formerly worked as a cleaner when she was a newcomer and said she was well aware of the industry’s practices.

City of Toronto cleaners make roughly $40,000 a year plus benefits, and many Councillors argued that cleaners deserved a decent wage for the difficult work they do. As a contrast, cleaners working for private contractors usually make close to minimum wage and struggle with multiple jobs to support their families.

“We welcome this decision from City Council because it was the right thing to do. We have been asking the City to lead by example, as a good employer, and we are happy that our Councillors agree,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of Good Jobs for All. Ng and others launched the Justice and Dignity for Cleaners campaign in September 2011, asking Councillors to vote on proposed job cuts instead of having City managers make backroom decisions.


For further information:
Preethy Sivakumar – 416 937 9378
Coordinator, Good Jobs for All

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Consequences of outsourcing city cleaning Jobs

By Robert Dryden and Jim Stanford

Canadians were justifiably outraged when Electro-Motive, owned by Caterpillar, threatened its London, Ont., workers with a 50 per cent pay cut and then left Canada in search of cheaper labour in the U.S.

In Toronto, a similar story is unfolding, only it’s city council — not an industrial giant — that poses the threat.

City council is considering whether to outsource up to 1,000 civic cleaning and janitorial positions to low-wage private-sector contractors. Pay rates for the hard work of keeping our public facilities clean and safe would face a Caterpillar-style reduction of as much as 50 per cent.

Full story Toronto Star

Stop contracting out Toronto cleaning jobs, academics say

Toronto must stop contracting out municipal cleaning jobs to stem the alarming growth of working poor in the city, academics and community leaders say.

“Turning good jobs into poverty wage jobs will only deepen the current job crisis,” they say in an open letter to Mayor Rob Ford and council being released Thursday. “Toronto’s budget issues should not be resolved at the expense of these cleaners, their families and their neighbourhoods.”

Almost 1,000 cleaning jobs in municipal buildings, police stations, daycares, social housing and long-term care facilities are at risk, they say.

The call comes in the wake of a recent report that shows more than 70,700 workers in Toronto are struggling to get by on poverty-level wages, a number that jumped by 8.2 per cent between 2000 and 2005.

It also comes a week after the Toronto Police Service signed a $1.7 million one-year contract with a private cleaning company, eliminating 100 jobs with benefits that paid about $20 an hour. Private cleaners typically earn the minimum wage of $10.25 an hour and receive few benefits.

“A well-functioning city needs all types of people, including people who maintain our civic buildings,” said University of Toronto professor David Hulchanski, among about 100 academics who signed the open letter.

“To replace them with people who earn half as much a year, with no benefits is just another example of how governments are increasing the social divide in our city,” added Hulchanski, a contributor to last weekend’s groundbreaking Metcalf Foundation report, “ ‘The Working Poor’ in the Toronto Region: Who they are, where they live and how trends are changing.”

The city’s community development committee will discuss the issue of low-wage work next week.

Rachael Rocca, 35, had hoped a cleaning job with Toronto Community Housing would be her ladder out of poverty.

In the summer of 2010, the single mother of three was among 30 tenants chosen to participate in a year-long apprenticeship program to train for a permanent position paying about $21 an hour, with benefits.

Eager to build a better future for her family, Rocca used her $14.50 hourly apprenticeship earnings to move out of her subsidized three-bedroom townhouse in Lawrence Heights and into a three-bedroom market-rent apartment in Weston.

But last summer Toronto Community Housing cancelled the apprenticeship program and instead of hiring Rocca and the others, continued to use a private cleaning company for about 100 positions that used to be filled by staff.

“We were devastated,” Rocca recalled. “We were all crying. We had all worked so hard and had been told if we did well that we would be hired.”

Rocca, who now receives employment insurance, has seen her $980 biweekly paycheques cut by half. She struggles to pay her $980 monthly rent.

“I needed that job for my children and for my financial security,” she said. “Now I have nothing.”

Source: Toronto Star

City cleaners in safety suits bring message to Councillors at Monday’s rally

Toronto, ON – City cleaners facing possible job cuts made their voices heard outside City Hall Monday night at the Rally for Toronto. As City Council continues to discuss proposed cuts, cleaners asked Councillors to consider the far-reaching implications of cutting hundreds, if not thousands, of living-wage jobs.

Cleaners wore protective suits, goggles, and gas masks that they require to complete their day to day duties. “We’re here not just as residents, but also as cleaners. Many residents don’t actually see us and aren’t aware of the kind of risks and dangers we take on in our jobs. We’re dressed like this to give them a look into our everyday work,” said Trish O’Brien, a Toronto Police Station cleaner.

“Talking about cutting our jobs sends the wrong message. If I lose my job, it affects my family’s livelihood, but if you cut hundreds of jobs, then that affects communities, and eventually our entire city,” said O’Brien. She was one of speakers at Monday’s Rally for Toronto organized by a coalition of Toronto organizations and groups opposing cuts to city services and good jobs.

“We have asked City Councillors to consider the effect of cutting living-wage jobs on the economic and social health of our city,” said Winnie Ng, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All coalition. Ng and others launched the Justice and Dignity for Cleaners campaign earlier this month, asking Councillors to vote on proposed job cuts instead of having City managers make backroom decisions.

“The rally’s main message to Councillors was ‘Build Toronto-Don’t Destroy it,’ and taking away the income of people, many of whom live in already poor neighbourhoods, is not going to help build and grow our city,” added Ng, who also spoke at the rally.

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Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency


September 15, 2011                                                                                             


Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency

Toronto, ON – Hundreds of City cleaners’ jobs may be contracted out and turned into poverty-wage jobs without a chance for City Councillors to weigh in and vote on the issue. The cleaners at the Toronto Police Service are the first group under attack. Continue reading Toronto cleaners call on City Councillors to defend good jobs, ensure transparency


With just 9 days to the October 25 municipal election, a coalition of community groups are hosting a community meeting to encourage local residents to make an informed vote to improve their community and protect public services.  The event will take place on Saturday, October 16 from 5pm – 8.30pm at the Driftwood Community Centre, 4401 Jane Street, Toronto.