Vancouver, BC — South Asian hotel workers are urging Sparq Productions, the Calgary-based Bollywood choreography and entertainment provider, not to cross their picket line this New Year’s Eve. Sparq Productions is slated to hold a New Year’s Eve event at The Deck at Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport where workers are currently on strike.
In a letter to Sparq Productions, striking workers call on event organizers to move their event to another venue to avoid crossing a picket line at the Vancouver area hotel. The workers have been on strike at Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport hotel since hotel management terminated 143 workers, or 70% of their staff, during the pandemic. Most of the impacted workers are women; many are from the South Asian community and worked at the hotel complex for decades. It is currently the longest hotel strike in Canada.
“Why are the owners of Sparq Productions disrespecting South Asian women by doing business with The Deck at Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport? Some of my co-workers worked at this hotel for over 40 years before being unjustly terminated; that’s one of the reasons why we made the difficult decision to strike. Why is a dance party more important than supporting those of us within the community?” said Pardeep Thandi, a striking room attendant who has worked at the hotel for over 28 years.
The pair behind Sparq Productions, Tania Lemos and Vishal Malpuria, have ignored calls to move their event to another venue. Sparq’s owners won the “South Asian Inspiration Award” last year, yet their plan to hold an event across picket lines is hypocritical to uplifting the South Asian community.
One of the affected workers filed a human rights complaint against the hotel employer (formerly named Pacific Gateway) on behalf of 90 women over sex and racial discrimination. The complaint alleges that hotel management’s terminations disproportionately impacted women and women of colour. The complaint was filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and is pending.
Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport is majority owned by PHI Hotel Group, which, until recently, managed the Westin Calgary Airport hotel. PHI Hotel Group and its owner are being sued by affiliates of Siksika Resource Development Ltd, the economic development arm of the Siksika Nation, for alleged fraud and misappropriation of $16 million in funds. The plaintiffs allege that the owner of PHI Hotel Group, which was responsible for overseeing Westin Calgary Airport when it was used as a federal quarantine hotel, diverted millions received from the government and funneled the money to entities related to PHI Hotel Group. The lawsuit is ongoing.
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