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'Ridiculous': Burnaby food service workers rally for a living wage at SFU

Some workers haven't had raises in more than a decade.
00Nouha Ishaq web
Nouha Ishaq is a food service worker who worked at SFU for 17 years.

Food service workers at SFU’s Burnaby campus rallied on Thursday to garner support for higher wages from their employer Chartwells.

The workers are supported by the UNITE HERE Local 40 union in Burnaby.

With inflation soaring across the lower mainland and the impact of Covid reducing hours of work and instigating safety concerns, SFU food service workers are fighting for a living wage, safer workloads, and the same benefits as direct SFU employees.

“I’ve worked at SFU for almost two decades but I’m making $17.50 an hour, it’s ridiculous,” said Nouha Ishaq, a food service worker who worked at SFU for 17 years. “I feel like we are being treated as if we’re second-class citizens. Food service workers help keep the campus running. We need a living wage now.”

Workers have been bargaining with the company over the past several weeks. However, Chartwells’ proposal is still far short of the living wage, the union said. The workers and the company are discussing future negotiations and planning to get back to the bargaining table next week.

The rally was held at the Convocation Hall at SFU, with over 100 workers in attendance. Many were holding signs that read “LIVING WAGE NOW!”

The food workers are not employees hired by the school, they are contracted by Chartwells.

The workers do not have the ability to take out a book from SFU’s library or make use of the fitness centre.

Joshua Chung, a business student, was sitting by the fire pit where the rally was being held and was “surprised by the amount of noise all of the workers were making, I sure hope they will be able to get a raise that they all deserve.”

After the rally, one of the supporters with a loud speaker said “We’ll be back, if we don't get our wages up from Chartwells.”