Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Naden Abenes was laid off from her jobs as a room attendant at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver when the pandemic hit. She now worries about what will happen when government assistance ends. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Naden Abenes was laid off from her jobs as a room attendant at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver when the pandemic hit. She now worries about what will happen when government assistance ends. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Unite Here Local 40 says approximately 80 per cent of its members in Greater Victoria have been laid off due to the pandemic. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Zailda Chan, president of Unite Here Local 40, speaks to the crowd outside the Legislature on Monday as part of the hunger strike kick-off. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Ten B.C. hotel workers have committed to an open-ended hunger strike in hopes of pressuring the government to ensure laid-off workers’ jobs are secured.

“We’ve seen a lack of leadership in terms of ensuring these jobs are protected, meanwhile the same hotel industry that is terminating long term employees are asking for a $680 million bailout,” said Zailda Chan, president of Unite Here Local 40. “This is why we’re resorting to such drastic measures.”

According to Chan, at least 80 per cent of the union’s members in Greater Victoria have been laid off, most have been unemployed since mid-March.

READ ALSO: B.C. tourism industry seeks $680M to rebuild after pandemic

The 10 members will be joined by another 20 over the coming days, all with different ranges of forgoing food. An encampment will be set up on the Legislature lawn throughout the hunger strike but will be taken down each evening. Hunger strikers will only be sipping on water and will be housed together throughout the strike.

READ ALSO: Hotel workers gather in Victoria, demand right to return to work

Naden Abenes, one of the strikers who was laid off from the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, will be fasting for five days.

“Most of us who have been laid off did nothing wrong, we stayed home to protect the public because the government asked us to,” she told the small crowd gathered at the base of the stairs of the Legislature on Monday.

Abenes has been relying on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Temporary Rental Supplement Program, but worries what will happen when the programs run out. “This means I have to consider giving up my apartment and staying with different friends and give them rent,” she said adding she doesn’t know what she’s going to do next month.

The same group gathered last month demanding the right to return to work.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusHotels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Keep a lookout for monsters around Kitimat during the week leading up to Halloween. (Black Press file photo)
Lions and tigers and…monsters? Oh my!

Find monsters hiding around town during the week leading up to Halloween to be entered for a prize

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read