FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2020
Vancouver, BC — On Wednesday, hundreds of laid-off hospitality workers in a caravan of cars honking horns and chanting on foot participated in a demonstration urging provincially and federally elected leaders to ensure employers rehire, not replace, laid-off workers as the economy recovers. With workers facing long-term layoffs in the sector, they risk losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Hotel housekeepers, servers, cooks and other members of UNITE HERE Local 40 led the caravan through the heart of downtown Vancouver.
Over 90% of B.C.’s hospitality workers were laid-off in March due to COVID-19. With travel restrictions and a cancelled convention and cruise season, it could be summer 2021 or later before the hospitality industry recovers. Workers laid-off from hotels like Holiday Inn Downtown, Blue Horizon and high-end hotels like The Wedgewood and Rosewood Hotel Georgia could be terminated if they are not called back to work this summer. Workers across the province face the same predicament, while non-union workers could find themselves permanently replaced even sooner.
CERB will expire in July and too few hospitality employers are participating in the government’s wage subsidy program. As businesses begin to reopen, unemployed workers are calling on their political leaders to make sure they are not left behind.
“We need Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau to help us get our jobs back and make sure employers don’t use the pandemic to replace us or force us to start over from scratch,” said Darcy Dawson, a laid-off server at the restaurant in Holiday Inn & Suites Downtown Vancouver. “This is my first job where I’ve had better job security and medical and dental benefits. Will all that go to the wayside because of COVID-19?” asked Dawson.
“Holiday Inn Downtown, Blue Horizon Hotel, Wedgewood, Rosewood Hotel Georgia and other unionized workers from hotels across the province could lose their jobs if they are not called back to work by the end of September. Worse, non-union laid off workers could be replaced tomorrow. We know the industry will eventually recover. And when it does, laid-off workers should be first in line to get their jobs back,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.
According to a recent poll of British Columbians commissioned by the union, 92% of those surveyed were in broad political support of requiring companies to rehire their workers before replacing them. The same poll found a similarly high level of support for such a requirement where employers receive government relief.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.