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We have always been there protecting people, we have always been on the frontline against illness
– Olga, Toronto
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Olga works as a cleaner at a 51-story sky scrapper in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. She has been scared to leave her house during the Covid-19 pandemic. She feels she has to because the building she works at is still operational and employment insurance does not provide enough to take a leave. The most worrisome part of her job right now is simply getting to work.
[su_quote style=”default” cite=”” url=”” class=””]It feels like we are risking our lives taking the TTC, but we need to go to work, so people at the building are safe. People need us.[/su_quote]
Olga believes her job is important because if nobody cleans, the tenants in the building won’t feel safe, and no matter what they do. Whether it be practice law, banking, insurance or other, they wouldn’t be able to continue working at the building unless she and her co-workers keep cleaning.
As part of her union’s most recent negotiating team, Olga understands well how her work has gone underappreciated. She feels her employer, the building owners, and property managers should be working together to make sure their important work is respected. “At least give some increase in pay like the grocery store workers,” she says. “We are exposed to risks. We are exposed when we leave our homes. How come we do not get a $2 raise?”
[su_quote style=”default” cite=”” url=”” class=””]Through our union, we have managed to win paid sick days, wage increases, a benefit plan, and most recently a pension plan. We are still fighting to address our concerns during this pandemic.[/su_quote]
Olga also knows she and her co-workers can count on the job protection they have as part of a union. She has explained to her co-workers that if there are layoffs, union members have recall rights. “We have a union and we will be the first ones called back to work,”
[su_quote style=”default” cite=”” url=”” class=””]The people who don’t have a union, their boss might put in new people, cut their wages, but to us they can’t do that.[/su_quote]