For Immediate Release – August 11, 2020
Victoria, B.C. — The second day of the hotel workers’ hunger strike was met with an abrupt reprisal from the BC Legislature. Today, the fasters and their supporters had planned to peacefully observe Question Period proceedings inside the BC Legislature as one of several activities planned for hunger strikers this week. Many of the fasters are laid-off hotel housekeepers who have worked in their hotels for more than a decade. They are conducting an open-ended fast on the lawn of the Legislative Assembly.
The group of fasters and their supporters had reserved spots to attend Question Period and to quietly witness the proceedings. However, the Legislature cancelled the reservation late in the day on Monday despite the peaceful and lawful nature of their open-ended fast. In an email from the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms:
“It has come to our attention that your group is associated with an ongoing protest currently taking place outside the Legislature. We are therefore cancelling your Gallery reservation for 15 people for tomorrow and you will not be allowed entry into the building.”
On Monday, several Victoria-area faith leaders conducted a blessing ceremony to mark the beginning of the hotel workers’ fast outside the BC Legislature. During the blessing ceremony that officially opened the hunger strike, Alastair McCollum, Archdeacon for the Tolmie region and the incumbent St. John the Divine, described the act of fasting:
“Fasting has many various and important reasons behind it. One, is to show that the nation needs a change of heart, another is to show grieving, another is to show solidarity, togetherness, and that’s why you’re here today. We bless you as you fast, and we give thanks to you for making this stand on behalf of a much bigger community – on behalf of those 50,000 whose jobs are at stake.”
“Laid-off hotel workers are engaging in an act that is by its very nature a dignified and quiet action. How does the BC Legislature deny the women and men fasting for justice a seat to observe democracy in action?” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.
Fasters kicked-off the open-ended hunger strike yesterday to bring attention to the crisis facing BC’s 50,000 laid-off hotel workers. Thousands of hotel workers laid-off due to the pandemic face the prospect of being permanently fired unless the province enacts a legal right for workers to return to their jobs as the industry recovers. Fasters will continue their hunger strike indefinitely until the province takes action.
Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]