Hotel Georgia workers walk off the job amid escalating Vancouver job action

Striking workers outside the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Global News

Job action at downtown Vancouver hotels has escalated again, with workers at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia walking off the job on Sunday.

Sharan Pawa, a spokesperson for Unite Here Local 40, said negotiations with the employer broke down around midnight when the hotel left the bargaining table.

Pawa said about 200 workers walked off the job, and employees began picketing the hotel at 7 a.m.

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“This is an indefinite strike,” said Pawa. “The Hotel Georgia workers are now joining workers at the Westin Bayshore, the Hyatt Regency and the Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotels in their indefinite strike until the hotel industry gives them the contract that they think is fair.”

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Unionized workers at the other three hotels began strike action on Thursday.

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Pawa said about 1,500 workers are represented in the ongoing negotiations at all four hotels.

Those workers are all represented by Unite Here, but negotiations at the Hotel Georgia are separate from those underway between employees of the other hotels and the Greater Vancouver Hotel Employers Association.

Parmar said the key sticking point has been job security for workers at the Hotel Georgia, who have been without a contract for about eight months.

READ MORE: Kootenay Lake ferry workers launch 3-day strike amid contract negotiations

“As the hotel industry grows and makes more profits, the hotels are actually reducing staff, cutting hours,” she said.

“This is reducing workload and making these jobs incredibly stressful and unsafe and unsustainable.”

The Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s management says it remains committed to a fair and reasonable contract, and had offered workers “the most significant advances proposed by any local hotel in collective bargaining.”

It said those advances include the expansion of panic buttons for staff, the creation of a safety representative position, and expanded processes to protect employees from harassment — including recording and removing problem guests.

It said the union had refused offers for competitive wages, retirement contributions and health and wellness initiates.

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The escalating job action comes amid a particularly busy weekend for Vancouver, with an estimated 30,000 cruise passengers travelling through the city and Sir Elton John in town for three nights of performances.

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