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)
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)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)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

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

District of Clearwater meetings are open to the public. The meeting agendas and past meetings minutes can be viewed on the DOC's website. Every meeting has time allocated at the end for comments from the public.
District of Clearwater hires new chief adminstrative officer

The new CAO will arrive at the end of June.

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Time for a change: Salmon Arm’s ‘corporate’ city flag is on the way out

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Most Read