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Rallies in six cities support 150 office cleaners dumped to save two dollars an hour

Anxieties over the erosion of decent paying jobs in Canada found an outlet today in rallies across the country, after 150 unionized office cleaners were fired in Vancouver and replaced by cheaper, non-unionized workers.

Unifor Local 3000 union members who cleaned Waterfront and Pacific Centre buildings were paid $12.50. Their non-unionized replacements will make as little as $10.50 with few benefits.

The owner of both buildings, Vancouver-based Cadillac Fairview, today was the target of angry protests in six cities, including Toronto, where Unifor National President Jerry Dias declared, "A crime against workers in Vancouver is a crime against workers here in Toronto and right across the country."

Dias spoke to a rally in front of the TD Centre highrise, owned by Cadillac Fairview, in Toronto's financial district, saying, "We stand for all contract and precarious workers."

Unifor rallies on behalf of the ousted cleaners were also held outside Cadillac Fairview buildings in Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Kitchener, and Vancouver, according to a Unifor press release.

Sticking up for the 150 cleaners thrown out of work, the press release said, fits in with Unifor's Good Jobs Revolution "to push for decent jobs in Canada and a sustainable future for our young people. Dias pledged to host a Good Jobs Summit next year, bringing all stakeholders together to find solutions to the current jobs crisis."

Cadillac Fairview reported a $1-billion profit last year, according to Unifor's BC Area Director Gavin McGarrigle.

Unifor president Dias said he received a letter from Ontario Teachers' Federation President Julie Pauletig pledging to work with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which owns shares in Cadillac Fairview, to pressure the company to pay its cleaners a living wage.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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