Unite Here Local 40, a union for workers at the Pacific Gateway Hotel near the Vancouver International Airport, voted to strike after the hotel terminated laid-off workers, including women who had worked for the hotel for more than two decades. Union representatives said that picket lines could go up at any time after a 72-hour strike notice is issued. The union members voted 91 per cent in favour of a strike last week.
According to the union, the hotel is refusing to recall staff when business recovers, and has plans to terminate the “majority of its workers by the end of March.” Louiemeer Arguelles, spokesperson for the union, said that one dozen workers were terminated in early February and around 150 are at risk of permanently losing their jobs.
The hotel’s actions will impact women of colour the most, particularly older immigrant women from the South Asian, Chinese and Filipino communities, according to the union.
Red Cross workers were brought in to look after quarantined hotel guests on behalf of the government, the union said, displacing employees. According to Arguelles, there’s currently only a “skeleton crew of about 20 to 30 (hotel) workers” that have been able to work at the hotel since the federal government began using it as a quarantine facility last year.
Union members would like to appeal to both the BC provincial government and the federal government for job security for these workers, predominantly women and immigrant workers, who have not been given any direction or advice.