May 11, 2016 17:00 ET

Cafeteria workers fighting for their jobs at U of T

A move by the university to bring campus food service in-house throws hundreds of workers into precarious employment

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 11, 2016) - Cafeteria workers from the University of Toronto held a rally and march today, protesting their mass termination and loss of job security due to the university's move to bring food services on St. George campus in-house.

Because of an existing loophole in Ontario labour law, the long-time cafeteria workers are being forced to re-apply for their jobs and are being put back on probation. Significant numbers of these workers are likely to be terminated even if they are offered jobs by the university.

The majority of these workers are immigrant workers. Many have served the university community for more than a decade, some more than twenty years. They expect better from an anchor institution like the University of Toronto.

These terminations are occurring even as the Wynne Liberal government is entertaining changes to labour law that would make the actions of the university illegal.

"I've worked serving U of T students and faculty for more than twenty years, but I'm being treated like a disposable worker," said Maria Goretti Frias, a cafeteria worker affected by the transition. "The university is supposed to be an anchor institution in our community, but instead they're engaging in a race to the bottom."

"When we were working for a food service sub-contractor, we were always on edge because our job security wasn't protected like other direct workers," said Valerie Gaynor, a cafeteria cook at the St. George campus. "Being brought in-house by the university should have made us more protected and less precarious, but now we're facing the loss of jobs we and our families depend on."

"I came to Canada for a better life, not to be treated like this by one of Canada's most prestigious universities," said Gaynor.

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