Canada: Major hospitality union votes for strike to negotiate improvements in wages and working conditions

Author: Susan Lazaruk, Vancouver Sun, Published on: 25 August 2019

"Job action possible after Vancouver hotel workers deliver strike vote", 24 August 2019

The Hyatt Regency, the Westin Bayshore and the Pinnacle Harbourfront Vancouver could soon be behind picket lines during the busiest tourism month of the year after its employees gave their union, Unite Here, Local 40, an 89 per cent strike mandate, union spokeswoman Sharan Pawa said Saturday.

“Our chief negotiator, Robert Demand, said unless the companies get serous about negotiations, a strike is a real possibility,” she said, adding that talks have been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The Pinnacle Harbourfront wrote in an emailed statement, signed by general manager Jonas Melin, that the hotel “is committed to the ongoing collective bargaining process. We are very hopeful for a new collective agreement.”

The company wouldn’t answer further questions. Calls for comment to the Bayshore and Hyatt weren’t returned Saturday.

The employees of those three hotels, plus those who work for the Hotel Georgia and Four Seasons Hotel — 1,500 workers in total, all represented by Local 40 — have been without contracts for up to a year, said Pawa.

On behalf of all 1,500 employees, Pawa said the union is demanding the companies improve the workers’ wages and working conditions to improve safety of the employees.

The union said starting rates for hotel jobs range from the high teens to low-$20 per hour range, but Pawa wouldn’t disclose the raises being sought because they are still in negotiations, she said.

“The real issue here is full-time hours,” she said. “Companies want full-time availability, on-call as needed, instead of offering full-time work.” That makes it difficult for workers to provide for their families or take a second job, Pawa said.

The union is also looking for “workplace protections” for its members whom Pawa said have suffered “serious injuries and strains” from heavy workloads on the job.

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Related companies: Hyatt