VANCOUVER — Members of Unite Here Local 40 picketed in front of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, currently ranked as the number one hotel in Canada, following almost a year of negotiations.
The contract for about 1,500 hotel staff in five luxury Vancouver hotels expired last July, but negotiations have stalled.
The union wants to raise the standards for the workers, especially since Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.
“A lot of our members from the Philippines actually work in the hotel industry & at the end of a long day, they go to another, a second job, they have no days off, and so one of the issues that we’re really, I’m really concerned about as president is how do we make these jobs better because people should have 40 hr jobs,” said Zailda Chan.
Aside from staff at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, the union also includes workers from four other luxury hotels — the Westin Bayshore, the Four Seasons hotel, Hyatt Regency, and Pinnacle Harbourfront.
Nym Calvez, a member of the unite here local 40 executive board, and a room attendant at the Pinnacle, says they have submitted proposals to the management of these hotels that includes a dollar increase to the average hourly rate of $17 to $18 and reduced workload.
As full-time employees, they also want hotel management to stop cutting their work hours.
“When you get less hours or no hours, your benefits get cut. That’s why we’re fighting for fulltime hours because it’s when your hours get cut, your benefit is gone too.”
Nadine Avenas, a room attendant at the Hyatt regency hotel for 11 years, also complains about their heavy workload.
“A lot of us are missing our breaks just to finish our rooms and physically people are very tired because it depends on the conditions of the rooms that we do.”
Millions of visitors flock to Vancouver from all over the world each year.
Each per-night stay at these four- and five-star hotels can be anywhere from $600 to upwards of $1000.
Yet the staff at these luxury hotels can hardly make ends meet.
“The hotel industry is the backbone of the economy in Vancouver. It relies on our members to take care of thousands and thousands, millions of tourists. But in return, they really need to do a better job of taking care and providing the people with the proper standards.”
Representatives of the luxury hotels’ negotiation team did not speak to media during their meeting with the union representatives at the Pinnacle Hotel.