Press Release: Laid-off Workers Protest against Shangri-La Hotel; Demand Action from Province to Save B.C.’s Hotel Jobs!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, July 28, 2020

Vancouver, B.C.— Workers held a protest today outside the high-end Shangri-La Vancouver over mass firings of laid-off staff at the hotel. Protesters demanded action from the province to ensure laid-off workers have the legal right to return to their jobs as business recovers. While the tourism industry recently asked for a $680 million industry bailout from the government, provincial leaders have yet to enact measures that will give 50,000 laid-off hospitality workers the right of first return to their jobs.

The Shangri-La is co-owned by Westbank and Peterson Investments, both major Vancouver developers.

Last month, Premier Horgan encouraged employers to keep their workforce intact.  He said the legislature would take steps to protect workers if they needed to do so. Shangri-La joins the Pan Pacific Hotel as the latest example of an employer taking advantage of the pandemic to eliminate its long-time workforce during the crisis. Dozens of laid-off workers have been terminated by the owners of the Shangri-La Hotel and Pan Pacific in recent weeks.

KM Chan, formerly laid-off server assistant at Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
“I don’t understand why they had to terminate us. Why couldn’t they just leave us on lay-off so we would have jobs to return to after the pandemic? I have co-workers that relied on this job to obtain their permanent residency and were close to getting their PR status, but with these unfair terminations they will lose everything they worked so hard for and could be forced to leave the country.”

Rajini Fjani, formerly laid-off room attendant at the Pan Pacific Hotel
“Those of us who were fired may be replaced by temporary workers earning minimum wage. My co-workers who remain employed are told they must sign away their years of service to become casual, on-call workers, and waive their severance rights. Otherwise, they will be fired. The Province needs to act now to protect workers and make sure we have jobs to go back to when business improves.”

Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40
“While the province considers a $680 million bailout of the tourism sector, will they make sure 50,000 laid-off hotel workers have the legal right to go back to their jobs as business improves? What is happening at the Shangri-La and the Pan Pacific is what lies ahead for tens of thousands of hotel workers across B.C. today.  The province must act quickly to protect laid-off workers who stayed home to protect public health; now we need the province to help them get their jobs back as the industry recovers.

Contacts: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]; or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]nitehere.org

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 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.