University of Manitoba hosts town hall on privatized services
Campus has been a mess since custodial services were contracted out, say some
Dirty washrooms and overflowing garbage cans were some of the grievances the University of Manitoba heard about on Friday at a town hall about on-campus services that have been contracted out.
The university organized the town hall meeting in response to a rally in February in which unionized employees, faculty and students protested what they describe as the increasing privatization of services.
The meeting allowed people to share their concerns directly with university president David Barnard.
Students and staff have complained about the lack of cleanliness in some buildings on campus since Aramark, a private company, took over management of custodial services.
A number of students told CBC News on Friday the washrooms in some facilities, including the Human Ecology Building, have been in a disgusting state.
Sharon Alward, president of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association, noted the condition of one bathroom in a building where no classes have been taking place, but the offices are still in use.
"One of my colleagues was very concerned because there was feces in the toilet that had been there for three weeks, in a toilet that had backed up," she said.
"Because there's no classes taking place in the building, I guess management has decided it's not a priority."
Aramark, union in dispute
The union that represents the caretakers, Canadian Auto Workers Local 3007, said Aramark laid off a number of workers after it received the contract to manage custodial services two years ago.
The union added that workloads have doubled among the workers who remain.
Frank Wright, who heads up the local, says he receives about a dozen complaints from members daily, with some saying they have been yelled at by managers.
As well, instances of sick leave have skyrocketed and many employees have quit or taken stress leave, he said.
Some custodians wore pink shirts on Friday to express opposition to what they say is bullying by Aramark management.
Aramark told CBC News in an email late Friday that it hopes to meet with the union to discuss the issues.
University of Manitoba spokesman John Danakas said the university will also listen to the union's concerns.
"The university looked at Aramark as a solution for caretaking, for custodial services, because there had been so many concerns," Danakas said.