Workers at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort hosted a rally outside the hotel on Saturday morning.
The “wake up rally” started at 8 a.m., according to witnesses. UNITE HERE Local 40 spokesperson Stephanie Fung said the rally was meant to send a message to the resort and its management company Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR) that the hard work of employees should be valued.
“Since workers were brought back, the hotel has been very busy,” Fung told The Observer. “There is a heavier volume of work; more time is needed to undertake extra COVID precautions to keep the hotel safe. Workers want that work recognized.”
In late April, The B.C. Labour Relations Board delivered a lockout notice to UNITE HERE amid a labour dispute between the union and HIR. The notice has not be rescinded.
One of the overall points of contention was the union’s call for recall rights, urging HIR to protect current employees and allow them to return to work as soon as work is available again. UNITE HERE sought protection until the early summer months of 2023.
Fung said the union has reached a tentative agreement with 27 out of 28 properties under negotiation – the exception being Harrison Hot Springs Resort, as of publication. She added workers want a “modest increase” to value their front-line work and acknowledge the more intensive labour needed to protect staff and guests while the pandemic still persists.
“Management is not listening to their concerns,” Fung said.
The previous contract between UNITE HERE and HIR expired in May 2020 and they have been in negotiations ever since. Between May 2020 and April 2021, there have been 13 negotiation sessions.
The communities affected by the spring lockout were: Vancouver, Victoria, Coquitlam, Richmond, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Harrison Hot Springs, Kamloops, Castlegar, Fort St. John, Port Alberni, Mackenzie and Prince Rupert.