Janitors working at Uptown Shopping Centre in Greater Victoria have voted to strike as workers demand better wages and paid sick days.
According to the newly unionized group, the janitors’ employer, Everclean Facility Services has refused to “provide a living wage” to the collection of workers at Uptown Shopping Centre.
A strike by the janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre would leave the outdoor public space with no sanitation or cleaning staff.
According to a release, the workers voted to unionize with SEIU Local 2 back in June 2020 and “have been fighting for a fair first collective agreement ever since.”
A push for increased wages and paid sick days has not currently been met, says the union.
“If I had been cleaning the lobby prior to the pandemic, you’d clean the windows, vacuum carpet, mop the floor. But now we have to sanitize all of the touch surfaces, including door handles, elevators, crash bars, door frames. It’s what is needed to keep mall visitors safe,” said Lance Szpradowski in a statement, suggesting the pandemic has brought on an increased workload.
The janitors feel that the cleaning the “expansive property” demands more from them amid COVID-19 while creating bigger risks of transmitting the virus.
“We are cleaners working in highly trafficked public spaces in the middle of the third wave, but we aren’t being treated like we’re essential by Everclean at all,” adds Hannah Clearwater, a nightshift worker at Uptown Shopping Centre.
The workers are currently paid a base wage of only $15.25 per hour.
Szpradowski, along with his fellow colleagues, feel apprehensive about striking, but feel the employer has left them no option and that “something has got to give.”
CHEK has reached out to Everclean Facility Services and is awaiting a response for comment.