UNITE HERE Local 40
Press Release – November 25, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356
Federal Government Takeover of Pacific Gateway Hotel Threatens 150 Jobs
Vancouver, B.C. – Today, UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference and called on the federal government to prevent 150 workers from losing their jobs at the Pacific Gateway Hotel, currently being used as a quarantine site. Hotel workers displaced by the takeover said they could be permanently terminated as early as January unless the government acts.
The federal government took over the hotel as a quarantine site near Vancouver International Airport and brought in the Red Cross to perform duties typically performed by the workers. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government’s contract has been repeatedly extended. Hotel management has said this is an involuntary seizure with no clear end date. Yet, laid off Pacific Gateway workers could be permanently terminated as soon as January, when workers’ recall provisions in their collective bargaining agreement begin to expire.
“I have worked as a room attendant at Pacific Gateway Hotel for 45 years,” said Gangamma Naidu, a laid off room attendant. The government took over my hotel and people hired by the Red Cross were trained to do my job. I worked all my life for this hotel and don’t deserve to be treated like this. Why isn’t the government protecting our jobs?”
The Trudeau government has urged employers to keep workers attached to their jobs. Yet, their actions threaten the future of 150 long-term workers – most of them women and immigrants from the South Asian and Chinese communities. Many of them have served the hotel for decades.
“We understand that the hotel needs to be used to quarantine travellers,” said Treva Martell, a laid-off server who has worked at the hotel for 15 years. “But some of us could lose our jobs permanently starting in January. We’ve asked for 24 months to return to our jobs. We just want to know we can be recalled to our jobs, no matter how long the pandemic lasts. Our federal leaders and the Pacific Gateway need to guarantee we’ll have jobs to return to when the pandemic is over,” said Martell.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Local 40 is affiliated with UNITE HERE Canada. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.