Day 8 of “Fast for Our Jobs”- Hotel Workers Enter Week 2 of Hunger Strike; More Actions Planned in Victoria

For Immediate Release – August 17, 2020

Victoria, B.C.— Fasting hotel workers have entered the second week of their hunger strike.  Although the legislative summer session has ended, hotel workers continue to forego food on the lawn of the BC Legislature to call attention to the plight of 50,000 laid-off hotel workers who want the legal right to return to their jobs when the industry recovers. The province says no decision will be made before a provincial review of recall protections concludes on August 20.

Fasters will lead several actions this week, including:

Tuesday, August 18: Delegations to Victoria-area MLAs

Wednesday, August 19: Rally at BC Legislature, 12PM

Thursday, August 20: Candlelight Vigil at BC Legislature (time TBA)

Friday, August 21: Press Conference (time TBA)

More details will be announced throughout the week.

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

 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.

 

Day 8 “Fast for Our Jobs”: Hotel Workers Enter Week 2 of Hunger Strike; More Actions Planned in Victoria

Victoria, B.C.— Fasting hotel workers have entered the second week of their hunger strike.  Although the legislative summer session has ended, hotel workers continue to forego food on the lawn of the BC Legislature to call attention to the plight of 50,000 laid-off hotel workers who want the legal right to return to their jobs when the industry recovers. The province says no decision will be made before a provincial review of recall protections concludes on August 20.

Fasters will lead several actions this week, including:

Tuesday, August 18: Delegations to Victoria-area MLAs

Wednesday, August 19: Rally at BC Legislature, 12PM 

Thursday, August 20: Candlelight Vigil at BC Legislature (time TBA)

Friday, August 21: Press Conference (time TBA)

More details will be announced throughout the week.

-30-

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

 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.

Day 6: “Fast for Our Jobs” Continues at BC Legislature

Province says no decision on protecting laid-off workers before Aug. 20

More to join fast and relieve outgoing hunger strikers

Victoria, B.C. – Although the legislative summer session concluded yesterday, hotel workers continue to wage their hunger strike for the right of 50,000 laid-off hotel workers to return to their pre-COVID jobs.  Minister of Labour Harry Bains announced in a press conference late this week that no decision will be made regarding recall protections until a provincial review of the issue concludes in six days.

Hotel workers awaiting a decision from the government will continue the open-ended hunger strike.  Two of the fasters who began their hunger strike on Monday were advised by a medic to end their fast due to health concerns.  More hotel workers will arrive to take their place on Saturday and will fast throughout the week in Victoria.

“Fasting was not an easy decision to make. It takes a toll on our bodies, but I chose to make the sacrifice because I want to send a message to the province about how the pandemic is affecting 50,000 laid-off hotel workers.  If the province gives the hotel industry the $680 million they’re asking for, the province should also help workers get our jobs back,” said Naden Abenes, a laid-off room attendant from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver who concluded her fast Friday.

Since launching the hunger strike on August 10, fasters have engaged in a series of actions including a car caravan demonstration encircling the BC Legislature, daily serenading and leafletting of elected officials, and meetings with MLAs.  Fasters received visits by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Victoria MP Laurel Collins who shared words of support for the hotel workers, as well as from Green Party leadership candidate, Dimitri Lascaris.  Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson held a public fast outside the office of a Vancouver NDP MLA on Wednesday.

As the legislative session wound up on Friday, fasters and community members presented a representative of Minister Bain’s office with a petition signed by hundreds of supporters urging the province enact a legal right for workers to return to their jobs as the industry recovers. The lack of protection for those laid-off due to the pandemic prompted laid-off hotel workers to launch the hunger strike.  The province has appointed a lawyer to review the matter and is expected to issue a report by August 20.

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Contact: Michelle Travis, [email protected], 778-960-9786; or Stephanie Fung, [email protected], 604-928-7356

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