PRINCE GEORGE – Some campus workers at the University of Northern British Columbia are among the lowest paid in the region, while the multinational corporation that employs them makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. CUPE 3799 says this is unfair and the University needs to bring cleaning services in-house and treat campus cleaners the same as other staff.
“UNBC prides itself of being Canada’s best small university, but these campus workers are struggling to get by. Campus cleaners are some of the lowest paid workers in the North. They deserve better,” says Tamara Sweet, Vice-president of CUPE 3799, representing over 400 UNBC support staff. “The University should bring these services in-house, employ cleaners directly like other staff, and treat them with fairness and respect.”
Cleaning services at the Prince George campus and the four regional campuses are contracted out to a multinational corporation – Sodexo. The France-based company employs over 400,000 workers in 80 countries and recorded over $700 million in profits in 2021. But CUPE 3799 says the workers that provide these services make much less than other campus workers, get virtually no benefits, have little job security and poor working conditions.
“Contracted out workers in post-secondary institutions make $8,000 to $10,000 less a year than those directly employed. And the people working in these positions are more likely to be Indigenous, Black, or racialized, and more likely to be newcomers to Canada,” says Sweet. “We are a small, tight-knit campus community. It’s what draws students, faculty, and staff to UNBC. But the cleaning staff we all depend on every day are being left behind.”
To draw attention to the problems with contracting out, CUPE 3799 has launched a public awareness campaign – A Better UNBC – for Everyone. The union is holding community and campus events to educate students and staff about contracting out. Prince George residents will also be seeing billboards advocating for campus workers across the city. And CUPE 3799 is encouraging students, staff, and community members to show their support for campus cleaners by signing an online petition at abetterUNBC.ca.