Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Interesting Toronto Star articles: Janitorial Working Conditions and Training Jobless as Bike Mechanics

Two pieces of interest from the February 2nd, 2009 Toronto Star:

In Carol Goar's opion piece, You can help cleaners earn decent wages, she notes that:

"Cleaners don't work for the banks, investment houses, law firms and advertising agencies that do business downtown. Most are employed by independent janitorial firms, which compete fiercely for contracts awarded by the commercial real estate chains that own and manage these buildings.

To win a contract, a cleaning company has to submit a low bid. That means hiring cheap labour.

For decades, the commercial real estate industry seemed impervious to the tug of social conscience. Calls to adopt fair wage policies went unheeded.

But lately, there have been some promising glimmers.

...Three property management companies in Canada have voluntarily raised their standards.

Bentall LP, the country's largest commercial landlord, recently adopted a responsible contracting policy, the first in Canada. Concert Properties, a Vancouver-based firm, will only consider bids from contractors who employ unionized workers. And Great West Life Reality Advisors, who manage 283 commercial properties, review the professional conduct of their contractors regularly."


And in Wheels turning to train jobless as bike mechanics, Paola Loriggio reports that:

"Toronto has Bike Month and Bike Winter, but what it doesn't have is bike mechanics – or, at least, not enough of them, according to those in the business.


A new project aims to fill that gap. The Bicycle Assembly and Maintenance Program will train out-of-work youths to fix and assemble all kinds of bikes so they can tap into a rising market, organizers say.

Many "will walk right into a job," says a project organizer, Rob White, sales vice-president at Outdoor Gear Canada. He estimates there are openings for 50 to 100 bike mechanics each year in the GTA.

The free eight-week program starts Feb. 17 and includes a two-week placement in bike shops such as Sweet Pete's and Duke's Cycle. The shops helped fund the project, a joint venture between the Learning Enrichment Foundation and the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, of which Lilly is president."

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