Vancouver, BC — Today, Burnaby City Council passed a motion to support locked out Hilton Metrotown hotel workers and called for a return to their jobs as business recovers. Dozens of Hilton Metrotown workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, rallied at City Hall before Council convened. The hotel locked out room attendants, front desk agents, banquet, and kitchen staff on April 16 after terminating 97 long-term workers. Their actions directly impact Burnaby families – 50 of the affected workers live in the municipality. The City of Burnaby is the first municipality in the province to not patronize the hotel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and adversely impacted BC’s hotel workers, many of whom are women and people of colour. Hotel workers urged Council to not give business to Hilton Metrotown until terminated employees are reinstated and the labour dispute is resolved.
“I’m so happy that Burnaby City Council did the right thing and stood on the side of Hilton Metrotown workers. At a time like this, we need our elected officials to do more to protect workers’ jobs. My son was 5 when I started working at Hilton. He’s 19 years old now. I helped support my family with this job. We shouldn’t lose what we’ve worked so hard for just because of the pandemic,” said Jaswinder Bassi, a laid-off room attendant and Burnaby resident who has worked at the hotel for almost 15 years.
“I’m pleased that the Mayor and Council decided to pass the motion and support us. Burnaby City Council sent a strong message today that hotel workers deserve the right to return to their jobs when business recovers. Hilton Metrotown workers made this hotel successful for over 20 years and we are determined to fight until we get our jobs back,” said Sergio Moyer, a front desk supervisor and Burnaby resident who has worked at the hotel since it opened.
Since the lockout, workers have set up a picket line and are demonstrating daily outside the hotel. Union customers, including BCGEU, BCTF, MoveUP, HEU, PSAC-BC, and UFCW 1518, have vowed not to patronize the hotel until Hilton Metrotown guarantees workers can return to their jobs, rather than be replaced, when the COVID-19 crisis is over.
At a time when the province is providing $120 million in new money to aid economic recovery in the tourism sector, Hilton Metrotown is using the pandemic to terminate long-term workers and permanently roll back economic gains made by women and people of colour who have long served the hotel. Hotel workers are urging elected officials at all levels of government to do more to support economically vulnerable workers hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.