Hotel workers gathered at the Legislature on Tuesday to demand a legal right to return to work. (Submitted by Michelle Travis)

Hotel workers gather in Victoria, demand right to return to work

Workers also asking the government to make sure employers don’t use pandemic to replace them

Hotel workers, joined by members of the Unite Here Local 40, gathered at the Legislature on Tuesday to demand a legal right to return to work as businesses recover.

At least 50,000 hotel workers across the province were laid off in March due to the pandemic but have no legal guarantee they will get their jobs back.

READ ALSO: Victoria’s Fairmont Empress, Grand Pacific hotels close due to COVID-19

According to a press release from Unite Here Local 40, the province helped change layoff provisions allowing businesses to delay severance payouts but has not guaranteed workers who have been laid off “a legal right to return to work.”

“Workers are already being terminated from their jobs before the industry has had time to recover,” reads the press release, adding that the hospitality industry may not recover until the summer of 2022.

READ ALSO: Empress workers won’t strike this weekend after tentative agreement reached

The workers are also asking for the government to make sure employers “do not use the pandemic as an excuse to replace them.”

Christie Spiteri, a server at Chateau Victoria Hotel and Suites, says growing up in Victoria and seeing how important the industry was the Island, she thought it would always be secure.

“We do not want our employers using the pandemic to replace us. That is why we are asking the government to stand up for laid-off hotel workers. We need Premier Horgan to act and extend our right to return to work, for as long as it takes for the industry to recover,” she said.


 

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