As Tourism Bounces Back, Pacific Gateway Workers Hold Mass Protest Marking Year-long Strike
Richmond, BC — Pacific Gateway hotel workers and community allies rallied today, to commemorate one year of being on strike. Workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, have been on the picket line every day since May 3, 2021, to fight back against mass terminations and economic rollbacks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific Gateway terminated 143 staff while the hotel was used as a federal quarantine site. The majority of affected workers are women, some with up to 45 years of service. The federal government left the hotel earlier this year after workers urged them to move.
The mass action at Pacific Gateway comes on the heels of a settlement of the year-long Hilton Metrotown labour dispute. Unlike Pacific Gateway, Hilton Metrotown agreed to a process to return 97 workers terminated during the pandemic to their jobs. Dozens of other unionized hotels across B.C. have made similar commitments to protect workers’ jobs.
The 380-room Pacific Gateway, owned by PHI Hotel Group, fired a majority of its employees while the hotel was used to quarantine travellers. That included 90% of its housekeeping staff, many of whom are women of colour. One of the affected room attendants filed a human rights complaint against the hotel last year on behalf of 90 terminated women on the basis of sex and race discrimination.
Ravinder Binning, a room attendant who served the hotel for 17 years: “Hilton Metrotown finally agreed to return their long-term workers to their jobs after a year-long lockout, and many other hotels did the same thing months ago. What’s wrong with Pacific Gateway? It’s shocking to think how all other hotels are set to make a comeback this summer with travellers coming to B.C. as restrictions ease, but Pacific Gateway still refuses to bring us, their loyal long-term staff, back. We’re the ones who made this hotel successful and we’re not going to give up. That’s why I’m on the picket line, determined to get my job back!”
Heriberta Ramirez, a banquet captain of 30 years at the Pacific Gateway hotel: “We’ve been on strike for a year now. Pacific Gateway needs to wake up! I can’t believe we are still on the picket line as other hotel workers across the province are being recalled to their jobs. This hotel has been serving hotel guests since the pandemic started. Pacific Gateway should be ashamed for treating us workers with disrespect. At a time when there is a labour shortage, this hotel should be returning us to work.”
For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.