Day 5 of #Fast4OurJobs: Fasters receive impromptu visit by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Victoria MP Laurel Collins

For Immediate Release – August 13, 2020

Victoria, BC – Fasting hotel workers welcomed two prominent visitors to their encampment at the BC Legislature yesterday – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Victoria MP Laurel Collins.  The MPs stopped by to share words of encouragement and support with the fasters on the fourth day of their hunger strike. The workers launched a “Fast for Our Jobs” on Monday urging the province to enact a legal right for hard-hit hotel workers to eventually return to their jobs.

Singh and Collins gathered with the fasters in an impromptu meeting at the fasters’ tent.  Singh told the group of laid-off hotel workers: “We think about you all the time. It is going to be a while before tourism, hotels and all the workers get back to work.  There needs to be some sort of support in place for these [workers].  It is a very serious challenge, and we are going to be there with you every step of the way.”

The fasters applauded the messages from the MPs and expressed their hope that the province will act urgently.

“I’m really glad NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and MP Collins came by to talk to fasters about the situation we’re facing.  They gave us moral support.  That’s so important right now because time is running out.  We hope the government will do the right thing.  After fasting for four days, we want an answer from the province.  We need to know if we’ll have the right to be recalled to our jobs,” said Naden Abenes, a laid-off room attendant from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

Singh and Collins join a growing group of elected officials, community and faith leaders who have expressed their support for the fasting hotel workers. Victoria City Councillor Sharmarke Dubow visited with the fasters earlier this week; Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson held a public fast outside the office of a Vancouver NDP MLA on Wednesday.

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Contacts: Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356; or

Michelle Travis, [email protected], 778-960-9785

Day 4 of #Fast4OurJobs: Statement by UNITE HERE Local 40 President regarding Minister of Labour’s Announcement on Temporary Layoff Provisions

For Immediate Release – August 13, 2020

Statement by Zailda Chan, UNITE HERE Local 40 President, regarding Minister of Labour’s Announcement on Temporary Layoff Provisions:

“While today the province announced steps they are taking to ease the process for employers to delay severance payments to benefit the business community–weeks prior to the August 31st expiration– we have been informed that the government will have a proposal for us to review on hotel workers’ legal right to return to work around August 20th.

We will be speaking to our fasters who are now on Day 4 of their hunger strike.  We will be bringing in medical staff to examine them to find out if anyone will not be able to last an additional 8 days.  For anyone who cannot endure the additional time, we will have other fasters rotate in to take their place so that the hunger strike can continue.

For 50,000 laid-off hotel workers, the solution is not complicated.  The province should enact a legal right for workers – laid off due to the pandemic – to be recalled to their jobs when business recovers.”

Contact: Michelle Travis, [email protected], 778-960-9785; or Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356

Day 3 of Hotel Workers’ Hunger Strike Brings Multi-City Actions: Vancouver City Councillor to Fast Outside NDP MLA Office; Car Caravan in Downtown Victoria

For Immediate Release – August 12, 2020

#Fast4OurJobs continues outside BC Legislature

Vancouver, BC — Today B.C. hotel workers enter the third day of their hunger strike outside the BC Legislature.  To support fasting hotel workers, Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson will participate in a public fast outside the office of NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, Spencer Chandra Herbert.  Meanwhile in Victoria, a community car caravan will be held this afternoon near the BC Legislature. Hotel workers were among the first and hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic and will be among the last to return to work. Fasting workers and their community allies are urging the province to give 50,000 hotel workers a legal right to return to their jobs as the industry recovers.

VANCOUVER:

WHAT:             Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson to fast outside MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert’s office today in support of BC’s 50,000 hotel workers.

WHEN:             Wednesday, August 12

TIME:               10AM – 6PM

WHERE:           923 Denman Street, Vancouver BC

 

VICTORIA:

WHAT:             #Fast4OurJobs Community Car Caravan

WHEN:             Wednesday, August 12

TIME:               5PM – 6:30PM

WHO:              Hunger strikers, community and labour supporters and hospitality members of UNITE HERE Local 40

WHERE:           BC Legislature, 501 Belleville Street, Victoria BC.

VISUALS:          Workers and community allies wearing masks, standing 2 metres apart, chanting and speaking with colourful banners, signs, and bullhorns; dozens of cars honking with signs and flags.

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 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.

 

Contacts: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]; or

Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]

 

Day 2 of Fast for Our Jobs: Despite Peaceful Activity on Lawn of BC Legislature, Fasting Hotel Housekeepers and Supporters Denied Entry to View Question Period

For Immediate Release – August 11, 2020

Victoria, B.C. — The second day of the hotel workers’ hunger strike was met with an abrupt reprisal from the BC Legislature. Today, the fasters and their supporters had planned to peacefully observe Question Period proceedings inside the BC Legislature as one of several activities planned for hunger strikers this week. Many of the fasters are laid-off hotel housekeepers who have worked in their hotels for more than a decade. They are conducting an open-ended fast on the lawn of the Legislative Assembly.

The group of fasters and their supporters had reserved spots to attend Question Period and to quietly witness the proceedings. However, the Legislature cancelled the reservation late in the day on Monday despite the peaceful and lawful nature of their open-ended fast.  In an email from the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms:

“It has come to our attention that your group is associated with an ongoing protest currently taking place outside the Legislature. We are therefore cancelling your Gallery reservation for 15 people for tomorrow and you will not be allowed entry into the building.” 

On Monday, several Victoria-area faith leaders conducted a blessing ceremony to mark the beginning of the hotel workers’ fast outside the BC Legislature.  During the blessing ceremony that officially opened the hunger strike, Alastair McCollum, Archdeacon for the Tolmie region and the incumbent St. John the Divine, described the act of fasting:

“Fasting has many various and important reasons behind it. One, is to show that the nation needs a change of heart, another is to show grieving, another is to show solidarity, togetherness, and that’s why you’re here today. We bless you as you fast, and we give thanks to you for making this stand on behalf of a much bigger community – on behalf of those 50,000 whose jobs are at stake.”

“Laid-off hotel workers are engaging in an act that is by its very nature a dignified and quiet action. How does the BC Legislature deny the women and men fasting for justice a seat to observe democracy in action?” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.

Fasters kicked-off the open-ended hunger strike yesterday to bring attention to the crisis facing BC’s 50,000 laid-off hotel workers. Thousands of hotel workers laid-off due to the pandemic face the prospect of being permanently fired unless the province enacts a legal right for workers to return to their jobs as the industry recovers. Fasters will continue their hunger strike indefinitely until the province takes action.

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Contact: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]

Hotel Workers Launch Hunger Strike – “Fast for Our Jobs” – Outside BC Legislature, Call on Province to Secure 50,000 Jobs before $680 Million Bailout of Tourism Sector

For Immediate Release: August 10, 2020

Victoria, B.C. — Today, workers hard-hit by the pandemic launched an open-ended hunger strike outside the BC Legislature to draw attention to the crisis facing the province’s 50,000 laid-off hotel workers. Fasters have encamped at the Legislature and are forgoing food until the government grants a legal right to return to work when the industry recovers.

Over 90% of workers in BC’s hospitality industry were laid off in March when the pandemic hit and will be among the last to recover. The tourism sector is seeking a $680 million bailout package from the Province, yet hotel workers have no guarantee that they will be first in line to get their jobs back.

The “Fast for Our Jobs” kicked-off today and will continue indefinitely. After the press conference, several faith leaders from Victoria area congregations opened the fast with a blessing ceremony on the steps of the BC Legislature. Fasters and community allies spoke about why they are participating in the hunger strike and urging the province protect laid-off workers’ jobs:

Leo Sumcio, laid-off server and bartender at Best Western Chateau Granville Hotel

“I am fasting for my family and my co-workers. Even though we are all making a sacrifice to be away from our families and loved ones to fast, it is very important that the government hear our voices and see our sacrifice. This is urgent – if the government doesn’t act, we won’t have jobs to return to.”

 Naden Abenes, laid-off room attendant at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver

“I will be fasting for five days because I am fighting to get my job back. I have worked at Hyatt for 12 years. For me personally, it has been very difficult. I have been relying on CERB to get by, and that is running out. We all worked so hard for this industry to make these decent jobs with good benefits. Now the industry is asking for $680 million dollars from the province.  But what about us? We should not have to lose everything we worked so hard for because of the pandemic.

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 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.

Contacts: Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356, [email protected]; or Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785, [email protected]