Burnaby hotel workers vote to strike after 'mass firings'

Glen Korstrom
The Hilton hotel in Burnaby. Hilton photo

The existing contract says employees lose seniority rights after being laid off for a period of 12 months. The hotel (and other lower mainland hotels) have the ability to extend that period voluntarily in the face of the pandemic, but have elected not to do so, probably selectively firing strong union members.

Gene McGuckin

Feb. 13, 2021

Vote was 97% in favour of a strike

A strike is one step close for a group of Burnaby hotel workers.

More than 97% of 145 workers at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown in Burnaby have voted in favour of a strike, according to union Unite Here Local 40, which issued 72-hour strike notice late afternoon Feb. 12.

"This move comes after Hilton Metrotown began mass firings of long-term workers last week, with more expected in coming weeks," the union told Glacier Media in a statement. "Hilton Metrotown has refused to recall their staff as the industry recovers. The firings will disproportionately hit women of colour, who have long served this hotel."

The hotel's general manager Chris Perna spoke with BIV briefly and said, "I have no comment at this moment."

Hotels across the world have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted general public reluctance to travel as well as government restrictions on travelling.

Workers at the hotel have been without a contract since before the pandemic, she said, and while negotiations have been ongoing for a new contract, the union was in a position to strike. 

The news comes on the heels of news (February 11) that around 75% of 165 workers at the Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel voted to unionize and join Unite Here Local 40. 

Unite Here also represents workers at Vancouver's Westin Bayshore, Hyatt Regency, Pinnacle Harbourfront and Hotel Georgia hotels. It led strikes at those hotels in bids to get better contracts in the fall of 2019. 

[Top photo: The Hilton hotel in Burnaby. Hilton photo]