Unionized hospitality workers at Rosewood Hotel Georgia started picketing Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 to back demands for safe and stable work. (Unite Here Local 40 Facebook photo)

200 Hotel Georgia hospitality workers join ‘open-ended strike’

Unionized workers at Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront have also walked out

Workers at Rosewood Hotel Georgia started picketing Sunday to back demands for safe and stable work.

The iconic West Georgia Street hotel is the fourth to join what Unite Here Local 40 has described as an “open-ended strike.” Workers at the Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront hotels already walked out Thursday.

The labour union posted on Facebook that 200 unionized hospitality workers at the Hotel Georgia walked off the job Saturday night around midnight “after negotiations with the hotel broke down.”

“On this rainy Sunday morning the workers begin their picket, fighting for respect and working conditions which match the five-star service they provide on a daily basis,” the union said.

A statement from Hotel Georgia said the hotel has been committed to achieving a reasonable collective agreement throughout the bargaining process.

Changes proposed by the hotel, the statement said, include extended scope for use of panic buttons to include employees in food and beverage outlets and in-room dining and housekeeping, with installation of the buttons taking place no later than March 31, 2020.

Other proposed changes include an expanded process to protect employees from harassment, creation of a safety representative position and permanent Harassment Free Work Environment Committee, and agreement to jointly choose an independent provider to survey the experiences of employees with harassment, discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Further, the hotel statement said, “Unite Here Local 40 … has refused advances in competitive wages, health and wellness initiatives, retirement contributions, complimentary room stay program and opportunities for career growth.”

“I am disheartened by the union’s strike action and will continue to pursue a fair and swift outcome,” said Safwan Abu Risheh, managing director of the hotel. “Throughout this process Rosewood Hotel Georgia will work from an operational contingency plan that allows us to serve our guests while continuing to put the safety of our associates as a central priority.”

Meanwhile, the president of the union says the hotel is misrepresenting the facts.

“Workers would welcome a standard that properly values their work, ensures safety on the job — particularly regarding sexual harassment,” Zailda Chan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Hotel Georgia abruptly ended negotiations and withdrew most of their proposals before both parties could make progress toward that goal.

“We remain willing to negotiate despite the company’s behaviour at the table.”

READ MORE: Unionized workers launch ‘open-ended strike’ at three Vancouver hotels



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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