PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 16, 2014) - Trent's food service workers, students and faculty are calling on the university to show leadership by ensuring that on-campus food service staff retain the modest working conditions that they have built up over the past 27 years.
As multinational food service corporation Compass Group Canada takes over operations at Trent University on April 25, the people who prepare and serve food to students and faculty have been informed that they will suffer drastic changes to their terms of employment, including cuts to wages and benefits, full-time positions and working conditions.
"We have the right to expect more from Trent University in terms of fairness," said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). "And we have the right to expect them to live up to their word."
Trent University assured the union on February 28 that its new food operations provider would respect all current wages and seniority levels.
"We have worked under many different food services providers, but we've never experienced such an all-out attack on our working conditions," said Judie Gates, president of CUPE Local 3205, which represents food service workers at Trent.
Compass's 40-odd demands for cuts to their working conditions include:
- cuts to wages, including cutting the student hourly rate from $12.69 to $11 per hour;
- reductions of full time staff, making it virtually impossible to qualify for benefits;
- eliminating benefits for employees over 65 and reducing benefits for all other employees;
- vacations cuts, in particular for those with 20 years' service;
- attacks on union representation;
- reduction of sick leave from 7 days to 3, a demand that could lead to people working when they are ill, potentially resulting in food safety problems.
"Members of the food services staff are well known to students, and there is not one staff that has not had a positive impact on our students in their time at Trent. The thought that some of these staff members may be at risk of losing their jobs or face cuts that will make it even harder for them to make ends meet is just wrong," said Braden Freer, president of Trent Central Student Association.
CUPE and Compass Group Canada are scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 17. In that meeting, the union will seek recognition by Compass so that both parties can engage in true collective bargaining.
"We want a solution that respects us and our rights as workers," said Gates.