“It’s always on our mind. Before I was redeployed somebody had tested positive at the call centre, and you think about it while at work. Then when you come home you worry about what you may have brought home.” Janitors do essential and dangerous work, but wages are very low and too often it’s all about doing more with fewer workers.
Another rally at Founders Square this morning. Armour Group may have assumed those noisy happenings would stop by now, but supporters of the fired Black workers aren’t going away. For this reporting job I was joined by my son Simon, an excellent photographer.
News release: Join us as #WeRise to end poverty, precariousness, and prejudice in the janitorial industry. Let’s show that Halifax is united for workers rights and for an end to racial discrimination in all its forms.
As if owing workers’ wages and not living up to the terms of a collective agreement isn’t messy enough, now Kit Singh, the owner of six Smiling Goat cafes in Halifax, is accused of firing a worker for speaking out about not getting paid.
From wage theft to unjust terminations, the Smiling Goat saga goes from bad to worse. Keith Karding was fired over the Easter weekend by Kit Singh. Keith has been very vocal and public about the issue of unpaid wages, as well as in his support of the unionization drive.
Lynn Jones, who helped organize the protests in support of the unjustly fired Founders Square janitors, is very happy about how Halifax responded to her call for action. But she is angry about the way the unfair treatment of Black workers was sanitized in much of the local press. Reporters, grow some spine, she says, and ask some follow-up questions rather than just write down what the Armour Group and the new cleaning contractor tell you.
Charlie Huntley, a Smiling Goat employee and union activist who helped organize the Just Us! cafes in Halifax several years ago writes on the ongoing fight against their new boss and why it is so very important to join a union. “I don’t know about you, but we, the workers of the Smiling Goat, are finished with wage-theft as usual. We are finished with bad bosses in the service industry. We encourage all service industry workers to unionize and fight back against the bullshit at work.”
Picketing continues in support of the unjustly fired Black cleaners who used to work at Founders Square, where, as a tenant tells us that, counter to the Armour Group’s claims, they did a good job. We also talk to Omar Joof about being poor, Black and immigrant, and to Gary Burrill, who believes the government, as a major tenant of the building, should speak out.
Some hopeful signs for the Smiling Goat baristas, but still a ways to go. We visit this morning’s information picket at the Lower Water Street location.
Today’s actions in solidarity with the unjustly fired Founders Square cleaners.