Toronto Star - - NEWS -

In On­tario, there are at least 45 oc­cu­pa­tions that can be legally de­nied a host of ba­sic rights, leav­ing thou­sands of the most pre­car­i­ous work­ers ex­posed. Maria Fa­rooqi, a sin­gle mother and build­ing su­per­in­ten­dent, is one of them, Sara Mojtehedzadeh re­ports


Maria Fa­rooqi, 46, is the woman tak­ing out your condo’s garbage, mop­ping its floors and scoop­ing up drunks from the lobby. But she’s not even en­ti­tled to min­i­mum wage.

Maria’s work day starts with the ris­ing sun. At 6 a.m., she be­gins by check­ing the wa­ter pres­sure in her 110-unit condo build­ing at Jane and Finch. As a live-in build­ing su­per­in­ten­dent, she is not en­ti­tled to rest pe­ri­ods, overtime pay or lim­its on work­ing hours — all be­cause of On­tario’s out­dated labour laws. She regularly works more than 12 hours a day, six days a week, and she is on-call 24-7 for emer­gen­cies. She makes $30,000 a year.

At 7 p.m., Maria fin­ishes her last task: wip­ing the ground floor’s light fix­tures clean of dead in­sects. Even when she re­tires to her apart­ment, she can rarely put her day be­hind her. Once, she was wo­ken up at 1 a.m. when a drunken res­i­dent tried to host a bar­be­cue in the lobby. Of­ten, she must get up in the mid­dle of the night to help po­lice re­view se­cu­rity footage. Maria says her lack of work­place rights are a slap in the face. “I feel like they’re say­ing, ’You’re not hu­man.’ ”

Maria has worked as a su­per for 18 years. Past em­ploy­ers un­der­stood the stress of the job, and were le­nient when she needed a break. This build­ing is dif­fer­ent: Last week, she worked 88 hours. Her er­ratic sched­ule makes it dif­fi­cult to have a real so­cial life. “Lately, I only had one girl­friend, Es­ther,” she says. “Some­times she takes me out for cof­fee.”

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