Hospitality workers rally in Vancouver over concerns they will lose their jobs

People held signs and encouraged drivers passing by to honk in support. Stephanie Fung

Hospitality workers rallied in downtown Vancouver Wednesday, worried for their jobs as hotels prepare to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Michelle Travis of UniteHere Local 40 says there’s concern that laid-off employees will be replaced with new hires who will be paid less.

“We figured it’s going to be summer 2021 before the industry really recovers and we want to make sure that workers who have spent years doing these jobs and are professionals at their work have a shot of getting their job back and be first in line to go back,” Travis told Global News.

About 150 people took part in the rally, some in cars and some on foot.

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UniteHere is calling on provincial and federal governments to introduce legislation that would require employers to bring back former staff instead of new hires.

READ MORE: B.C. considers easing COVID-19 restrictions on hotels, resorts in mid-June

On Wednesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said if there is a requirement to change the Employment Standards, then B.C. will do that.

As long as COVID-19 transmission rates remain low, B.C. hotels and resorts could open as early as this month.

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“We hope employers would want to bring their workforce back and we think there are those who will,” Travis said.

“But we also think that some employers will use it as an opportunity to replace them and that’s something that we want to avoid. We don’t want to see the pandemic used as an excuse to replace those former workers.”

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