For Immediate Release
May 1, 2021
On May Day, Hilton Metrotown workers worry whether they can pay their bills
Vancouver, BC — Hilton Metrotown has cut off almost 50 of its laid-off workers’ employment insurance benefits in a direct attack on its locked out and laid-off workers. This comes as the hotel’s lockout enters its third week and affects those, primarily women and people of colour, who have been out of work for months. The hotel locked out room attendants, front desk agents, banquet, and kitchen staff on April 16 after terminating 97 long-term workers. The workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 40.
Affected workers have been cut off for nearly two weeks. The union has launched an online petition calling on federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough and MP for Delta, to intervene and protect laid-off Hilton Metrotown workers so they don’t lose desperately needed income supports amid the third wave of the pandemic.
Workers who are locked out receive lockout pay and are not eligible for EI. However, Hilton Metrotown has begun notifying laid-off workers who should continue receiving EI that their employment benefits have been paused because of the labour dispute. This impacts workers who have not worked a shift at the hotel in more than 8 months. Most of them were laid off when the pandemic struck.
“I’m deeply hurt and angry that Hilton Metrotown cut off our EI. I’ve only worked a few shifts, and EI still wasn’t enough to make ends meet during the time I was laid off. It’s clear that they’re trying to demolish our livelihoods and ability to feed our families. First you fire workers, then you lock us out. Now you’re cutting off our legal government assistance. Hilton Metrotown, how dare you treat your loyal workers like this during a pandemic! Have you no shame?” asked Kelsey Paul, a front desk agent who has worked at the hotel for 11 years.
Last week, the City of Burnaby passed a motion in support of the locked-out workers — with one Councillor calling the hotel’s actions “despicable” — urging the hotel to end the lockout and return workers to their jobs as business resumes.
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.