After silence from Toronto Metropolitan University management over the weekend, custodial and maintenance workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) started their first-ever strike Monday morning.
“It’s been a frustrating process. All we’re asking for is wages that keep up with the cost of living in Toronto, and for a say in how our pension is run – the same say that faculty already have,” said Jason Vigilante, President of CUPE Local 233. “We really like working at TMU, but for many of us, our wages simply haven’t kept up with what we’re seeing elsewhere.”
The workers began a work-to-rule campaign on Thursday after talks ended, and have told TMU that they will return to the table if the university starts to take their issues seriously.
“How can TMU management tell these workers they don’t deserve wages that keep up with inflation, when administration gave themselves a 15% raise?” asked David Simao, chair of CUPE’s provincial university workers committee. “These are issues of basic fairness, which is why all of CUPE’s university sector and the campus coalition all support the custodial and maintenance workers.”
CUPE 233 has support from across the TMU community, including from academic workers in CUPE 3904 and the faculty association, from staff represented by OPSEU Local 596, and from student groups including the Toronto Metropolitan Students Union, Graduate Students Union and the Association of Part-Time Students.
A rally in support of the custodial and maintenance workers is planned for Monday, April 17, at 12:00 noon at the intersection of Yonge and Gould, on the west side of the TMU campus.
More than 715,000 workers are members of CUPE across Canada, in post-secondary education, municipalities, school boards, health care, social services and federally regulated sectors.