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Who wants to clean up blood and feces for $10.25 / hour?

Two City of Toronto employees whose job is to clean cells at police stations gave city councillors an eye-opener on what the job entails.

“I clean HIV blood off the walls, I clean feces off the walls,” said Trish O’Brien. “I clean bedbugs. I clean scabies. Are you going to get somebody to do that for $10.25 an hour?”

O’Brien, 34, and co-worker Christopher Idrovo, 30, appeared before council’s government management committee which is reviewing consultants suggestions to save money, including contracting out police station cleaning.

A recent city report said police station cleaners make an average of $30.32 an hour including benefits, versus supposedly cheaper rates for private-sector cleaners.

Idrovo recounted a recent case of an inmate injuring himself and smearing blood all over, then being taken to hospital only to return to do it again in another cell.

“People that have HIV cut their wrists, paint the walls,” O’Brien said. “What if I caught something? Do you think I’m not entitled to benefits? I think I am.”

Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, supports contracting-out cleaning jobs to save money. He didn’t respond to the cleaners’ submissions.

City cleaners perform hard work and work hard on the city’s behalf, Tim Maguire, first vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 79, told the city hall committee.

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