Working during a pandemic with no sick days: Janitors at Loyalist College raise concerns about safety as students prepare to return to campus

Working during a pandemic with no sick days: Janitors at Loyalist College raise concerns about safety as students prepare to return to campus

BELLEVILLE, Ontario, Aug. 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Janitors working at Loyalist College have been labouring day and night to prepare for students’ return to campus in September. But despite their best efforts and commitment to student health, janitors are not being granted the working conditions they need to ensure safe and healthy conditions during the pandemic.Janitors at Loyalist College are fighting their employer for sick days, a fair wage, and retirement security. Absent paid sick days and adequate pay, workers feel compelled by financial constraints to come into work even while sick. This has potential to spread illness to other janitors and the rest of campus population.This state of affairs is untenable for janitors. Unionized under the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2, janitors have already thrown 100% of their support behind a strike mandate vote, which was conducted on July 23rd.Jennifer Johnson is a janitor at Loyalist College. Like the rest of her co-workers, Johnson isn’t going back down unless janitors’ minimum requirements are met. Johnson says: “We need sick days, retirement security and better pay, and we are ready to fight to get them.”The students, janitors, and staff of Loyalist College, plus the wider Belleville community, deserve to know that every step is being taken to ensure health and safety. The janitors’ employer, a cleaning contracting company called Compass Canada, has refused to equip janitors with the bare necessities they need to maintain sanitary conditions.Two strike mandates are required before janitors will go on strike. The employer and the janitors are set to meet again to negotiate on August 7th. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the janitors will proceed with a second and final strike mandate vote.SEIU Local 2 represents over 10,000 janitors in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.Assya Moustaqim-Barrette
assyamb@seiulocal2.ca
(416) 274-4903


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