UNITE HERE Local 40 files complaint with B.C. Human Rights Tribunal
Richmond, BC – When the Four Points by Sheraton Vancouver Airport changed ownership a year ago, approximately 80% of the hotel staff were Chinese. The predominantly Chinese staff organized to join UNITE HERE Local 40, but within one year, management reduced the number of Chinese staff from 80% to 40%. Many of the workers are part of Richmond’s Chinese community and are experienced members of the hospitality industry.
The Four Points workers voted to unionize in February 2018 to have a voice on the job and to feel valued in their workplace. The employer has retaliated by firing a Chinese union supporter, who was later reinstated by order of the B.C. Labour Relations Board, terminated the predominantly Chinese food & beverage staff, reduced the hours of union supporters and has denied leave to workers who requested time to attend to health and family matters in China.
“UNITE HERE Local 40 wants to know why management appears to be targeting long term staff and members of the Chinese community,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.
UNITE Here Local 40 is calling upon Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Richmond City Council to support Richmond’s Chinese workers and examine the practises of the hotel owner, Rajeev Nijjar – a developer and business owner in Richmond – over the hotel’s treatment of Chinese workers. The union contends that the City’s hotels should be good places for people who live in the community to work.
“The City of Richmond has an obligation to this community to ensure Mr. Nijjar is not targeting Chinese workers at his hotel,” says Chan.
Richmond has approximately 200,000 residents, roughly 54% of them Chinese.
“We want everyone at work to be treated fairly. I don’t understand why the hotel would want to remove Chinese employees when so much of our clientele is Chinese,” said Leung. “There are times when only one person on shift can speak Chinese, and this can make it hard to provide proper service to our guests in their language.”
Richmond’s Intercultural Advisory Committee has introduced an Intercultural Strategic Plan which states that Richmond’s Intercultural Vision is “for Richmond to be the most welcoming, inclusive and harmonious community in Canada.” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie proudly points out that Richmond is recognized internationally as “a model for cultural diversity and harmony.”
“Discrimination against Chinese workers does not align with Richmond as ‘a model for cultural diversity and harmony’ that the City hopes to be. The City of Richmond needs to examine why Chinese workers are being targeted for union activity at this Four Points hotel,” adds Local 40 President Zailda Chan.