Laid off hotel workers demonstrate outside the office of Tourism Minister Lisa Beare in Maple Ridge on Aug. 27, 2020. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Hotel workers ending hunger strike outside Beare’s office

Labour minister’s statement brings close to Maple Ridge demonstration

Hotel workers on a hunger strike outside the constituency office of Tourism Minister Lisa Beare will end their demonstration effective Wednesday.

Stephanie Fung, spokesperson for Unite Here Local 40, said the union decided to end its hunger strike after 22 days, following a statement from Labour Minister Harry Bains on Monday. They began the hunger strike in Victoria, and brought it to Beare’s Maple Ridge office last week.

READ ALSO: Hotel workers bring demonstration to tourism minister’s office in Maple Ridge

The union was pushing for a commitment from the government to protect 50,000 hotel jobs, as some businesses are firing long-term staff, they said.

Labour lawyer Sandra Banister reviewed of layoff and recall rights in B.C.’s unionized hotel sector at Bains’ request. Her report noted thousands of workers have been out of work for the last six months and do not know when they will be able to return.

“It is Unite Here’s campaign that has brought attention to the severity and urgency of this issue,” said Bains, adding he has met with some workers and appreciates their concerns.

“I remain committed to supporting hotel workers by getting them back to work or into alternative employment as soon as possible. I will be doing this through several ways,” he said.

“I will be asking my colleague ministers to ensure that any government economic recovery package, particularly for the tourism and hotel industry, contains a pledge for employers to offer a right of first refusal to existing employees when work resumes.

“I also will be advocating that access to jobs in the public sector is provided to workers impacted by tourism closures, in positions where their skills are transferable.”

He added the government will not get involved in collective bargaining situations.

“I am hopeful all parties involved can come to mutual resolution at the bargaining table, and I urge both sides to get together as soon as possible to work out a voluntary resolution to this important issue.”

Fung said the union will offer a full response to the minister’s statement.

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