Janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre voted to strike April 20, citing the increased risk from the pandemic, low wages and no paid sick days. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre voted to strike April 20, citing the increased risk from the pandemic, low wages and no paid sick days. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Petition to support Uptown Shopping Centre janitors who’ve voted to strike has more than 300 signatures

Union calls on mall management to pressure its contractor to ‘provide workers with a fair deal’

A petition calling for Shape Properties Corporation, the company that manages Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich, to support the mall’s janitors who’ve voted to strike has collected more than 300 signatures since April 27.

Citing low wages, no paid sick days and increased occupational risks amid the pandemic, the janitors who work for Everclean Facility Services – a contractor hired by Uptown management – voted to strike on April 20. Now, a petition is circulating calling for mall management to support the janitors by pressuring their contractor to provide a deal the union feels is fair.

READ ALSO: Janitors at Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich vote to strike

In June 2020, the Everclean janitors joined the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 and demanded that their employer provide a living wage and paid sick days. After negotiations stalled, they voted to strike if an agreement couldn’t be reached.

The petition, published on the SEIU Local 2 website a week after the strike vote, asked the community to support the janitors’ request for the mall to take action. As of May 13, 339 individuals had signed.

Assya Moustaqim-Barrette, a spokesperson for the union, explained that the goal is to make the Shape Properties Corporation aware of the power it has over the situation as the contractee. The union has not received a response from mall management.

The petition points to the fact that a strike would leave Uptown without a cleaning staff which could lead to health risks during the pandemic. When asked to comment on the petition and potential strike, a spokesperson for Shape Properties Corporation told Black Press Media that it’s a discussion between their contractor and the Everclean employees, not the mall itself.

READ ALSO: Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

In a statement sent to Black Press Media on May 13, Everclean explained that negotiations with the SEIU Local 2 have been ongoing for nine months and that the two parties have reached agreements on several bargaining items.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to key cost items, SEIU Local 2 has refused to consider the same terms that they have extended to our industry competitors,” the statement read.

Moustaqim-Barrette noted that issues such as paid sick days can’t be compromised and if that’s industry standard, it’s unreasonable. The janitors want to avoid walking off the job but “a strike could technically happen at any time.”

To view the petition, visit justiceforjanitors.ca.

Do you have a story tip? Email: devon.bidal@saanichnews.com.

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