VICTORIA—A lack of progress from the employer at the bargaining table has forced members of Unifor Local 4276 to give their bargaining committee a strike mandate.
“The Fairmont Empress is a top-tier hotel and its workers deserve respect and fair compensation. It is a leader in the industry and we expect the collective agreement to lead the way,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The employer must come to the table prepared to bargain a fair contract that reflects the critical contribution of hotel workers.”
Local 4276 members voted 97% in favour of job action if negotiations do not produce a satisfactory result. No strike deadline has been set. The union is required to give 72 hours notice of job action.
At the Empress Hotel, Unifor members are prioritizing wages and housekeeping workloads. Injuries on the job can be a common result of unrealistic work assignments. In a workplace survey conducted by Unifor, these predominantly women and workers of color reported they are often afraid to report injuries or ask for assistance.
Under current conditions, staff retention is a struggle for many hotels. One labour market report shows the hospitality and tourism workforce has declined though staff cuts and layoffs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For every 1.6 permanent employees, one was laid off, and of those who were laid off, roughly one third did not return.
“B.C. has built a world-renowned tourism industry around a solid hospitality sector led by facilities like the Fairmont Empress. A fair contract will ensure hotel workers at a key site in the capital will earn a fair wage and improve workplace health and safety,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.