College cleaners in Whitby and Oshawa on strike

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Published August 25, 2022 at 4:42 pm

Seventy cleaning workers at Durham College campuses in Whitby and Oshawa hit the picket lines Wednesday.

The workers, contracted by GDI Services, have been out of a contract since December 31, 2021. They voted to strike after rejecting the employer’s latest offer Wednesday and went on the picket line at 4:30 p.m. that day at both post-secondary school campuses.

“During the pandemic, these workers were asked to put their health and lives on the line to keep educational facilities clean,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “They deserve a respectful living wage and economic dignity.”

Jeff Gray, President of Local 222 – which represents the GDI cleaners – said the workers are seeking “significant and substantial” increased wages, benefits, with the co-payments reduced and improved working conditions.

“They rejected the employer’s economic proposal and they’re fed up with how they’re being treated,” Gray said. “Disrespect comes in the form of workload compared to the wages they’re making. They’re asked to do a lot and they’re not compensated for it.”

GDI sold the tender of the cleaning contract to another company, BestPro Cleaning Services, Grey contends.

“Everyone signed up and did their paperwork with BestPro and then BestPro decided the contract is too rich for their blood, so GDI came back in the picture. It’s been a mess,” he said. “There has been a lot of uncertainty for our members. The membership is angry, but united.”

Gray said he hopes the picketing will raise awareness from the college’s management of the issues. “We feel they will put pressure on GDI to get results, because school is in two weeks and the last thing they want is a strike by the cleaners.”

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