By Allan Woods
The union that represents more than 80 Ryerson custodians fears it has been hit with the first wave of budget cuts predicted last month by the university’s president.
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 233 say administrators have moved five janitors from the Image Arts building, the Monetary Times building and the Theatre school into Jorgenson Hall to make way for cheaper contract workers.
Claude Lajeunesse said last month the university will have to cut costs from all departments if it is to avoid an estimated $4- $6 million deficit.
In a Tuesday interview, two CUPE members said the hiring of these low-wage workers compromises the security of students and equipment in the buildings. They are also concerned that the quality of work in the building has declined.
The union members, who feared reprisal and asked that their names not be used, said what is happening to their department could indicate what is to come in the coming months throughout the school.
“If it’s going to happen here, it’s going to happen in every department,” said one custodian who has worked at Ryerson for 15 years.
Since the contract staff began to work about one month ago, Ken Nelson, a repair technologist and union steward who works in the Image Arts building, said there have been numerous complaints from program faculty.
“There have been some difficulties,” Nelson said. “Things aren’t being done in the manner they used to be.”
All inquiries on the manner were referred to Ian Hamilton, who didn’t return repeated phone calls Tuesday.
Stephanie Blake, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 596, said a coalition involving RyeSAC and the unions on campus, will prepare an alternative budget that will look at cuts that won’t involve reducing services or staff.
Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and student affairs, said department heads have been asked to identify areas that can be cut but “there has been no decision made in respect to budget reductions.”