Province says no decision on protecting laid-off workers before Aug. 20
More to join fast and relieve outgoing hunger strikers
Victoria, B.C. – Although the legislative summer session concluded yesterday, hotel workers continue to wage their hunger strike for the right of 50,000 laid-off hotel workers to return to their pre-COVID jobs. Minister of Labour Harry Bains announced in a press conference late this week that no decision will be made regarding recall protections until a provincial review of the issue concludes in six days.
Hotel workers awaiting a decision from the government will continue the open-ended hunger strike. Two of the fasters who began their hunger strike on Monday were advised by a medic to end their fast due to health concerns. More hotel workers will arrive to take their place on Saturday and will fast throughout the week in Victoria.
“Fasting was not an easy decision to make. It takes a toll on our bodies, but I chose to make the sacrifice because I want to send a message to the province about how the pandemic is affecting 50,000 laid-off hotel workers. If the province gives the hotel industry the $680 million they’re asking for, the province should also help workers get our jobs back,” said Naden Abenes, a laid-off room attendant from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver who concluded her fast Friday.
Since launching the hunger strike on August 10, fasters have engaged in a series of actions including a car caravan demonstration encircling the BC Legislature, daily serenading and leafletting of elected officials, and meetings with MLAs. Fasters received visits by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Victoria MP Laurel Collins who shared words of support for the hotel workers, as well as from Green Party leadership candidate, Dimitri Lascaris. Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson held a public fast outside the office of a Vancouver NDP MLA on Wednesday.
As the legislative session wound up on Friday, fasters and community members presented a representative of Minister Bain’s office with a petition signed by hundreds of supporters urging the province enact a legal right for workers to return to their jobs as the industry recovers. The lack of protection for those laid-off due to the pandemic prompted laid-off hotel workers to launch the hunger strike. The province has appointed a lawyer to review the matter and is expected to issue a report by August 20.