Over 1200 hospitality workers in 14 cities could be locked out as early as Friday, April 30
Vancouver, BC — UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference today to address a 72-hour lockout notice issued by Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR), an employer group representing 32 hotels, motels, and liquor stores across BC. Over 1,200 hospitality workers and their families in 14 communities will be affected if the lockout goes into effect. Hospitality employers are refusing to commit to retain their workers—mostly women and people of colour who served their hotels for years—to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
UNITE HERE Local 40 has called on HIR to jointly request mediation and find a path forward to address the impact of the pandemic on hospitality workers and their employers.
The lockout notice comes just as the Province announced they will provide an additional $25 million in ‘circuit breaker’ grants to the hotel industry, on top of $120 million announced last week to aid the economic recovery of the tourism sector.
Without a commitment to return workers to their jobs when the COVID crisis is over, more hospitality workers will be terminated. Mass pandemic firings have been used as a threat to roll back decades of economic gains. Two weeks ago, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown locked out hotel workers after firing 97 long-term staff. These attacks on workers, primarily women and racialized workers, prompted the hotel workers union to launch the “Unequal Women” campaign to call attention to hotels that refuse to guarantee workers the right to return to their jobs as the industry recovers.
Jan Budd, a kitchen helper for 30 years at Holiday Inn & Suites Vancouver Downtown, said: “What my hotel and others in BC are doing is immoral. They aren’t respecting our years of service. Instead, they want to get rid of many of us, cut costs, and roll back our economic gains. If my hotel locks me out, it will be a big financial burden. I’m barely getting by with the few shifts I’m working now. I’m 61 and I don’t want to start all over again at minimum wage.”
Fe Taala Casas, a room attendant for 26 years at Inn at the Quay in New Westminster, said: “What did we do to deserve this? I can’t imagine what will happen if I have no work. I support my daughter who’s in college and still lives with me. We’re all working families. We just want our jobs to be there for us when it’s time to go back to work. Do they really want women like me to go back and start all over again? We won’t accept this. We have no choice but to fight back.”
Hospitality workers in these communities are affected by the lockout threat: Vancouver, Victoria, Coquitlam, Richmond, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Harrison Hot Springs, Kamloops, Castlegar, Fort St. John, Port Alberni, Mackenzie, Prince Rupert, and Fort St. John.
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.