Mostly affected Liza Secretaria is one of nearly 100 workers — predominantly women of colour — who lost a job at the Hilton Metrotown due to the pandemic. It’s now been 111 days since a picket line was set up outside the Burnaby hotel.
Secretaria has worked at the hotel for more than two decades, and says the impact of losing her job and the prospect of not being able to return has been devastating for her and her family. Like many immigrant women, Secretaria not only supports herself but lives with and cares for her ailing mother, as well as supporting several other members of her family in the Philippines.
At roughly 5 p.m. this afternoon, hundreds blocked the intersection of Kingsway and Willingdon with sounds of honking cars driving by in solidarity with hospitality workers.
UNITE HERE Local 40 says workers — mostly women — have now been without their jobs for 112 days.
At issue is the demand for laid-off workers to be recalled with their salaries, benefits, and pensions intact as the economy and tourist industry recovers — something the union representing striking workers says the employer has so far refused to discuss.
“Workers are standing outside the hotel because what the hotel is doing is just outrageous, they have fired long term workers, we’re talking about women who’ve had been at this hotel for 10 – 20 years. They’re saying you’re disposable,” says Stephanie Fung with Unite Here Local 40.
“We know that that business is going to come back, women should not be losing their jobs, and that’s why hotel workers are standing out here every day reminding people that this fight is still happening. So far there has been no commitment to bring workers back to their jobs and that’s what we’ve been asking for so long.”
Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, said “These workers should be treated like the heroes they are. Hotel workers, the majority of whom are women, have been among those hardest hits by the economic impact of the pandemic. We do not tolerate employers who try to recover on the backs of women by making work more precarious and insecure. The Canadian Labour Congress, representing over three million workers, fully supports workers at Hilton Metrotown, Pacific Gateway and others who are courageously fighting for their jobs.”
According to UNITE HERE Local 40, 50,000 hospitality workers lost their jobs when the pandemic hit the province in March, with thousands of employees terminated.
(Unite Here Local 40 FB; Photo credit :Salve Dayao)