President Zailda Chan speaks to the crowd outside the Legislature as the hunger strike kicked off Aug. 10. It ended Sept. 1 in Maple Ridge. (Black Press Media file photo)

‘Hunger strike’ for hotel workers ends 22 days after it started in Victoria

Hotel workers pleased with minister’s promise to help with ‘devastating impact’ of pandemic on industry

Demonstrations dubbed a hunger strike by hotel workers that began on Aug. 10 in Victoria ended Sept. 1 in Maple Ridge.

Hotel workers, joined by members of the Unite Here Local 40, gathered at the legislature in Victoria in August to demand a legal right to return to work as businesses started to recover after a major slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Hotel workers gather in Victoria, demand right to return to work

Tuesday’s end of the hunger strike follows Labour Minister Harry Bains’ announcement that any economic recovery package would contain a pledge for employers to offer a right of first refusal to existing employees when work resumes.

An Aug. 31 news release outlines labour lawyer Sandra Banister’s findings during an independent review of layoff and recall rights in B.C.’s unionized hotel sector.

“She outlines how thousands of workers have been out of work for the last six months and do not know when they will be able to return. These are difficult circumstances for all workers in hotels that rely on international and business travel, including the members of Unite Here Local 40,” Bains said. The report outlined the “devastating impact” the pandemic has had on the hotel industry. “I remain committed to supporting hotel workers by getting them back to work or into alternative employment as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Last week, hotel workers moved their encampment to Tourism Minister Lisa Beare’s office in Maple Ridge and then moved to Labour Minister Harry Bains’ office on Aug. 31.

“I’m really proud of all that we did to organize this hunger strike. Hotel workers refused to stay silent brought this crisis to the forefront,” Naden Abenes said in a news release. The laid-off Hyatt Regency Vancouver staff member was among those who fasted for days at a time during the demonstration.


 

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