Allegations of labour violations levelled at Dream Office REIT’s cleaning contractors on Bay St. properties
Mila Viernes is a single mom who needs to work two jobs to make ends meet. Now she’s out of one of those jobs.
“I do not make enough money with one job to pay my mortgage, utilities, groceries, and car expenses,” said Viernes. “That is why I work overtime and two jobs to get by.”
“It upsets me that they did not retain us,” she said. “I have been cleaning there for nine years.”
Mila was joined by her co-workers as well as cleaners from other Local 2 Justice for Janitor members in the downtown core. Other unions also supported the cleaners’ efforts including SEIULocal 1, CUPE Local 1281 and Unite HERE Local 75.
Hundreds of flyers were distributed at the lunch time rally. The public, including tenants of 330 Bay St., expressed concern and support for the cleaners.
Mila and her co-workers vowed to return soon if the issues contained in legal complaints the workers filed are not resolved.
Numerous legal complaints were filed last week against companies contracted by Dream Office REIT to provide cleaning services at 330, 350, 357, 360 and 366 Bay Street, 80 and 67 Richmond Street, 56 Temperance Street.
The allegations include:
- That the previous contractor, Impact Cleaning Services Limited and its subcontractor MCC Inc., failed to pay workers the provincial minimum wage and vacation pay as required by the Employment Standards Act, 2000. There are currently 9 complaints filed with the Ministry of Labour seeking over $18, 000 in lost wages and vacation entitlements for the past 12 months.
- That Amphora Maintenance Limited, the company that took over the cleaning contract at the beginning of October, failed to meet its obligations under Bill 7 and currently owes cleaners over $25,000 in termination and severance pay.
- That Amphora Maintenance Limited refused to retain the employment of 12 cleaners, with a combined service of over sixty years. According to allegations contained in a complaint filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the workers were not retained because they were trying to form a union. It is common industry practice to retain existing cleaning staff when a cleaning company takes over a contract at a property.
SEIU Local 2, the union helping the workers organize, believes that Dream has a responsibility to ensure that the companies it contracts to maintain its properties comply with the law. The workers are seeking reinstatement, the wages they are owed and their desire to be unionized respected.