Laid off hospitality industry workers gathered at the offices of MLAs on Friday, including that of Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith. (Submitted photo)

Laid off hotel workers want jobs protected

Gather outside Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith’s office Friday

On Friday morning, laid-off workers urged Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith to protect the jobs of 50,000 hotel workers across B.C.

A delegation of area hotel workers delivered a message asking D’Eith to do more for workers laid-off due to the pandemic. While the government contemplates the tourism industry’s ask for a $680 million bailout, laid-off, long-term workers are currently being fired from their jobs, said a union press release.

Hotel workers want a legal right to return to their jobs as business recovers, and visited the offices of MLAs across the province.

“Government asked 50,000 hotel workers to stay home to protect public health,” said Zailda Chan, Unite Here Local 40 president. “Now will the government help workers get their jobs back?”

“The province is letting business delay severance payouts, but that doesn’t protect workers at all,” said Chan. “We need a guarantee from our elected officials that workers have a right to go back to their jobs when it is time to return.”

Hotel workers have been among the hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID-19, said the union. They will be one of the last to return to work. Without legal rights to return to work, tens of thousands of B.C.’s laid-off hotel workers could face permanent job loss.

D’Eith did not speak with the workers directly, but offered a statement supporting their position regarding recall:

“I can understand the concerns of these workers, and I can only imagine the stress that this uncertainty is causing them and their families. Our government has worked to ensure that laid off workers get the supports they need, but we’ve also been very clear that COVID-19 is not an excuse for employers to ignore their obligations to workers. I expect employers to meet their obligations to workers – and to recall those people who have been there and helped build those businesses. The Minister of Labour has been engaged with hotel workers on this issue and recall rights. We strongly encourage the union and the employers to get together and negotiate options to address the workers’ concerns. Our government has and always will support free and fair collective bargaining between unions and employers.”

He was not at the office on Friday. D’Eith constituency office has been staffed and open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and he and his staff remain available to constituents by phone and email throughout the week.

READ ALSO: 130 cases of COVID-19 linked to Kelowna as reporting classification changes

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