For Immediate Release: August 10, 2020
Victoria, B.C. — Today, workers hard-hit by the pandemic launched an open-ended hunger strike outside the BC Legislature to draw attention to the crisis facing the province’s 50,000 laid-off hotel workers. Fasters have encamped at the Legislature and are forgoing food until the government grants a legal right to return to work when the industry recovers.
Over 90% of workers in BC’s hospitality industry were laid off in March when the pandemic hit and will be among the last to recover. The tourism sector is seeking a $680 million bailout package from the Province, yet hotel workers have no guarantee that they will be first in line to get their jobs back.
The “Fast for Our Jobs” kicked-off today and will continue indefinitely. After the press conference, several faith leaders from Victoria area congregations opened the fast with a blessing ceremony on the steps of the BC Legislature. Fasters and community allies spoke about why they are participating in the hunger strike and urging the province protect laid-off workers’ jobs:
Leo Sumcio, laid-off server and bartender at Best Western Chateau Granville Hotel
“I am fasting for my family and my co-workers. Even though we are all making a sacrifice to be away from our families and loved ones to fast, it is very important that the government hear our voices and see our sacrifice. This is urgent – if the government doesn’t act, we won’t have jobs to return to.”
Naden Abenes, laid-off room attendant at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver
“I will be fasting for five days because I am fighting to get my job back. I have worked at Hyatt for 12 years. For me personally, it has been very difficult. I have been relying on CERB to get by, and that is running out. We all worked so hard for this industry to make these decent jobs with good benefits. Now the industry is asking for $680 million dollars from the province. But what about us? We should not have to lose everything we worked so hard for because of the pandemic.
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.