Press Release: Hundreds of hotel workers at Sheraton Vancouver Airport call on Turkish Airlines to stop sending their flight crews to stay behind a picket line

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada – Hundreds of hotel workers at Sheraton Vancouver Airport, now in their tenth month on strike, call on Turkish Airlines to stop sending their flight crews to stay behind a picket line at the Hilton YVR hotel in Richmond, Canada.

Larco Hospitality operates the Sheraton, Hilton, and Marriott Vancouver Airport hotels, which form British Columbia’s largest hotel complex. The hotels regularly accommodate flight crews landing at YVR Airport, including those of Turkish Airlines. Since Sheraton Vancouver Airport hotel workers – represented by UNITE HERE Local 40 – launched their strike for living wages, other airlines have withdrawn their business from the hotel complex in solidarity – WestJet, UPS, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Fiji Airways. Sheraton workers’ picket line extends around the whole complex, including in front of the Hilton where Turkish Airlines sends its flight crews. Turkish Airlines is now an outlier for its continued patronage of the complex.

“I’ve worked at the Sheraton YVR Hotel for 31 years,” said Ana Dikili Musuvanua, a room attendant on strike. “It is owned by one of Canada’s richest families, but they don’t pay us enough to support ourselves and our families. This is why we walked out on strike. I urge you to support our fight and tell Turkish Airlines to respect the picket line of workers in Canada!”

Hava-İş, the Turkish Civil Aviation Union, represents the flight crews that are disrespecting the strikers’ picket line. UNITE HERE Local 40 has reached out to Ali Kemal Tatlibal––president of Hava-İş––about the issue, but has not received a response. “A labor leader must not disregard his union’s complicity in the undermining of a labor action. In order for workers anywhere to make gains, we must engage in solidarity and cooperation across the globe––especially when the issue is as trivial as relocating a hotel contract,” said Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President.

“In addition, the Turkish Government (which owns 49% of Turkish Airlines through the Turkiye Wealth Fund) has invested public funds in a company that undermines rights. Many government officials recently celebrated May 1st, International Labor and Solidarity Day, with claims to support workers: Vedat Isikhan, Türkiye’s Minister for Labor and Social Security, posted on X that ‘we stand by every single person who works and produces.’ If Minister Isikhan is serious about standing with all workers, he must use his position of influence to pressure Turkish Airlines––of which his government is a majority shareholder––to change hotels.”

Striking workers have protested Turkish Airlines’ flight crews checking in to the Hilton YVR hotel, chanting outside the hotel “shame on you!”, “don’t check in! check out!”, and “we’ll be back!”.

“Even from a financial perspective, the Türkiye Wealth Fund must recognize that unnecessary involvement in a labor dispute poses an investment risk,” President Chan continued. “As a member of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds, the TWF has a responsibility under the Santiago Principles to ensure that its investments take on minimal risk. We urge the TWF to abide by these principles, as well as the pro-worker values that are espoused by Turkish government officials.”

UNITE HERE Local 40 hopes that Hava-İş, Turkish Airlines, and the Turkish Government will work quickly to move Turkish Airlines flight crews out of the hotel complex and respect the striking workers.

 

Media Contact: Nate Holers, campaigns@unitehere40.com