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

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

(File photo)
Okanagan-Shuswap real estate markets not slowing down

Residential sales in the Central, North Okanagan and Shuswap beat last year’s sales by 71 per cent

A crowd of approximately 6,500 packed into Stuart Park in downtown Kelowna to ring in 2018. (Contributed)
Downtown Kelowna New Year’s celebration cancelled

The popular New York New Year’s event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

(Google Maps)
UPDATE: COVID-19 case confirmed at Mar Jok, Rutland Senior Secondary

School District 23 said the individual is now self-isolating

Residents should run their taps until cold before using their water. (Black Press file photo)
Westside water quality advisory back on tap

Leak repair at Westshore Estates affecting some properties, again

An Enderby restaurant and pub was shut down Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
North Okanagan pub reopens after COVID-19 scare

After a guest reportedly tested positive for the virus, staff test results came back negative

Alix Longland
Trauma resources ready for North Okanagan refugees

Family Resource Centre working with UBCO social work grad to reach out to local refugees

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

The Hughes’ Grinch was stolen from their front yard Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Santa suit the Grinch is wearing is 50 years old and has sentimental value. It was once worn by April Hughes’ dad. (Hughes photo)
Grinch stolen from Penticton home is ‘irreplaceable’

The Hughes have had a Christmas display for 25 years on Grandy Avenue in Penticton

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
B.C. Mountie builds fire to warm suspect with hypothermia prior to rescue

Cpl. Phil Peters said the civilian helped police track, apprehend and eventually rescue the suspect

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Revelstoke COVID-19 cluster linked to non-essential travel: Horgan

There have been 46 cases of COVID-19 in the community

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Students at Lavington Elementary crammed a car full of non-perishables for those in the community facing food insecurity. Spearheaded by teacher January Peebles (left), the donations were picked up by Give LUCK founder Myrika Godard, who works to connect donors with donees in the North Okanagan. (Give LUCK photo)

Most Read