120 cleaning staff expected to be handed pink slips

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner




More than 100 people will be getting pink slips for Christmas.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has announced that 120 cleaning staff of Koprash Inc., who work at Canadian Forces Base Borden, will lose their jobs effective Dec. 31.

“The news is devastating,” said Sharon DeSousa, of the public service alliance. “Yet, these workers and their families aren't the only ones affected.

“There are hundreds of small- and medium-sized businesses that will be affected by the loss of spending power through these layoffs.”

Cutbacks by the Conservative government are pin-pointed as the reason behind many of the PSAC job cuts, the alliance noted on their website.

Alliance members work in food inspection, old age security and environmental protection services as well as promoting First Nations and Inuit health and preserving parks and historic sites.

They also work in search and rescue services, offer assistance to veterans, troops' support and border security. On average, the 120 cleaning staff on the base earn about $12 per hour, or a total of $200,000 each month representing 60% of the company's workforce.

CFB Borden spokesman Capt. Rob Bungay didn’t have all the details at press time.

However, he said he had heard about the job losses.

“I am familiar with the contract ending,” Bungay said.

Several years ago, Defence Minister Peter MacKay presented former base commander Brig.-Gen. Louis Meloche with $300 million earmarked for infrastructure spending at the base that hadn’t seen a renovation in 60 years.

During his tenure, Meloche oversaw $57.8 million in upgrades to the training quarters, $77.8 million for a new school of electrical and mechanical engineering facility as well as $13.75 million to consolidate the Canadian Forces recruiting group headquarters into one centre.

Ongoing construction at the base includes beginning a major kitchen renovation — that offers about 4,000 meals daily — an intrusion alarm system, as well as installing an HVAC system. Earlier this year, Meloche announced a new recreation centre for the military personnel at CFB Borden. Col. Tammy Harris became the first female commander at Borden when she took over the reins from Meloche last July.

“The main economic driver of this entire area is the base,” said John MacLennan, spokesman with the Union of National Defence Employees.

“These job losses represent how government cuts not only impact the public sector, but the private sector as well. Job losses at the base mean less spending in the community and ultimately businesses will suffer.”

The alliance has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Angus and Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the layoffs.

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