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TD Centre janitors given the boot

Building owner switches to non-union company

by Robert Devet

TD Centre is getting rid of its janitors and switching to a non-unionized company. That doesn't sit well with the workers and their union, SEIU. Photo Facebook.
TD Centre is getting rid of its janitors and switching to a non-unionized company. That doesn't sit well with the workers and their union, SEIU. Photo Facebook.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Markeit Symonds is eighteen years old and finishing up high school. His mother has been sick a lot, and the family has a hard time making ends meet.

That's why after school, rather than play basketball, Markeit goes to the TD Centre in downtown Halifax to work as a cleaner. School work gets squeezed in whenever there is time.

But by mid-July that job is ending, because the property manager of the building, Compass Commercial Realty, has terminated the contract with GDI Integrated Facility Services, the company Markeit works for.

The five affected workers are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The number of workers is relatively low because of the high vacancy rate in the building.

A non-unionized company, Deep Down Cleaning, will take over.

Just about now extended benefits are kicking in for most workers as per the collective agreement, Diego Mendez, communications coordinator for SEIU Local 2, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

Workers will be reassigned to other buildings, but that doesn't make Mendez feel much better.

“They will be displacing other union members, and the workers who clean the TD Centre will no longer have a union,” says Mendez.

There will be a rally this Friday July 3rd to call on the owner, TDB Halifax Holdings Limited, property manager Compass Realty, and anchor tenant TD Bank to reinstate the unionized workers.

No doubt all parties will wash their hands of any responsibility, Mendez speculates.

“The property owner washes its hands by handing the dirty job off to a property manager. The property manager washes its hands by giving the job to cleaning company,” he says. “And TD Bank will claim it's just a tenant.”

But Nova Scotians need good jobs with benefits, say Mendez. And SEIU is not ready to just walk away.

The SEIU is an integral part of the national Justice for Janitors coalition, a broad-based movement to support Canada's janitors who often earn very little and lack any job security of benefits.

The unionized GDI workers in contrast enjoyed not just employer-paid health benefits, but also seniority rights, overtime premiums, paid breaks, paid sick days, and more paid holidays.

And very important, a bit of dignity and respect.

The Rally  For  Respect  and  Good  Jobs is scheduled for Friday July 3rd, at 12 noon, at the TD Centre, 1791 Barrington Street, in Halifax

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert



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Topics: Labour
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