Justice and Dignity for Cleaners: Nezrene Edwards

The Mayor of Toronto wants to outsource the jobs of hundreds of city cleaners and turn them over to low-wage contractors. There are already too many jobs in Toronto that pay poverty wages. Good Jobs for All wants Toronto to move forward instead of backward. We think cleaners in every sector deserve to make a living wage.

As a city, we can stand up for good jobs that will not just raise standards for workers, but also strengthen our neighbourhoods and communities. Contact your City Councillor and tell them that we should defend good jobs in our city.

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Nezrene Edwards

“For 20 years, I have been a Toronto housing cleaner. The residents here know me and I know my work makes a difference for them. Every morning, I come in and clean the grounds, the buildings, compact the garbage, hose the floor to clear maggots and bugs. It’s not pretty, and I am responsible for work that many people would just find really difficult to do. We get shots to prevent things like hepatitis because there is a real risk of getting sick. People need to understand that just because we pick up dirt doesn’t mean we should be treated like dirt. We deserve to be treated with dignity.

I feel bad for some of the cleaners that private contractors bring in while me or my colleagues are on vacation. They get really low pay for doing difficult work. It’s just not fair because all the money ends up in the contractor’s pockets when the cleaners are basically making minimum wage.”

There are already too many jobs in Toronto that pay poverty wages.

In some cases, the companies involved in contract cleaning have grown immensely rich from their operations. Some are in the Fortune 500, with revenues in the billions. Others are cut-throat operations that have a history of exploiting immigrants and violating employment standards.

But there is more at stake here than poor wages. The plan to outsource jobs will start in police stations, where the question of security has always been a major concern. As outsourcing spreads into other facilities such as long-term care, any attempt by companies to cut corners can have a major impact on the health or safety of vulnerable residents.

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