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

People watch burning funeral pyres of their relatives who died of COVID-19 in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Infections in India hit another grim daily record that day as demand for medical oxygen jumped seven-fold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan)
Liam’s Lowdown: Tell us more how COVID-19 is impacting B.C.

Compared to other provinces, B.C. releases less data on COVID-19 infections and vaccinations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

The five graduating members of the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Lakers U18AAA girls hockey team – Jessica Engelbrecht (from left), Makenna Howe, Cheree Peters, Jayden Perpelitz, and Alexis Bishop – have all committed to collegiate hockey programs in Canada and the U.S. (Photo submitted)
Vernon-based hockey squad sends 5 to college ranks

Thompson Okanagan U18AAA Lakers players heading to Canadian and U.S. programs

Richard Green writes poetry under the nom de plume Rick the Poet Warrior. Homeless, Green sometimes spends his summers in Revelstoke but winters in Victoria, travelling to Ontario to visit his sister whenever he can. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke nomad pens poetry, offers insight into homelessness

Rick the Poet Warrior’s books can be found online as well as at the Revelstoke library

(Pixabay photo)
NHL bracket challenge supporting Indigenous awards at Okanagan College

One or more Indigenous students experiencing financial barriers will be able to receive an award

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Notes of hope, encouragement and camaraderie were left on the message board inside the kitchen of TacoTime. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

Most Read