PRESS RELEASE: Hilton Vancouver Metrotown Workers Launch Job Action; Unequal Women Stand Up to Protect Jobs

For Immediate Release
February 19, 2021

Vancouver, BC – Hilton Metrotown workers have initiated a partial strike action over job security. This comes on the heels of a round of permanent layoffs initiated by the Hilton to significantly cut staffing. The terminations affect long serving immigrant workers, many of them women who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic repercussions of the pandemic. The “she-cession” hit women first and hardest with greater job losses and underemployment in sectors decimated by the pandemic, like hospitality.

This week, the Hilton initiated a second round of unlawful permanent layoffs after receiving notice of the job action.  UNITE HERE Local 40, which represents the workers, is pursuing legal steps to fight the unjust terminations.

Hilton Metrotown has refused to extend workers’ right to return to their jobs beyond 12 months despite the extenuating circumstances of a major public health crisis. Nearly 40 workers have been permanently terminated since last month; the hotel has made clear its plans to eliminate much of the staff, including women who have worked at the Hilton Metrotown for two decades.

Women who clean, cater to and care for Hilton guests are leading the fight to save hotel jobs from an industry intent on using the pandemic to slash and burn them.

“The hotel wants to get rid of everyone and hire new workers to replace us. Women who I have worked alongside for years are being terminated. That isn’t right. I’m worried about my job too.  I’m 57 years old and have a young niece to support.  Who will offer me a job at my age if I have to start all over again?  Women like me made our hotel successful. That’s why we are leading the fight to protect our jobs,” said Gemma De la Torre, Hilton Metrotown room attendant.

“Vancouver’s tourism industry was built on the backs of women. Shame on the hotel industry for its pandemic profiteering. We say ‘No’ to unequal women in the hotel industry, because that will hurt the economic recovery for all of us,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

The Union is currently in negotiations with Hilton Metrotown.

Media Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected], or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

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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.