1,200 B.C. hospitality workers face potential lockout

The staff are employed at 32 hotels, motels and liquor stores across B.C.

Vancouver holiday inn
The Holiday Inn & Suites on Howe Street is one of the hotels where workers could be locked out | Glen Korstrom

Approximately 1,200 workers at hotels, motels and liquor stores across B.C. face potentially being locked out of their jobs as soon as 3:49 p.m. today (April 30), according to the union Unite Here Local 40. 

The union and Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR), which represents 32 hospitality businesses that have Unite Here Local 40 members, have been without a contract since last May, Unite Here Local 40 spokeswoman Stephanie Fung told BIV.

Most of the hotels are independent businesses, although the Holiday Inn & Suites on Howe Street in Vancouver and the Inn at Westminster Quay are managed by Atlific Hotels, which is a large hotel operating company, she said. 

HIR issued 72-hour notice of a potential lockout via the B.C. Labour Relations Board at 3:49 p.m. on April 28. 

The biggest issue for the workers is the right to be called back after the COVID-19 pandemic, and not have the employers be allowed to hire new workers, Fung said. 

"All these employers are refusing to allow that," she said. "Instead, they are set to impose a lockout."

The workers are all now either laid off or working at the businesses. None are on strike. 

If a lockout is imposed, workers plan to demonstrate outside the businesses, and set up picket lines, Fung said. 

"These employers are taking the first action to pressure workers to accept the current proposal, which is no recall, no severance," Fung said. "Since workers haven't agreed to that, and they don't like that contract, we believe that HIR is imposing this lockout to pressure workers to agree to this proposal."

Communities where the workers are employed include Vancouver, Victoria, Coquitlam, Richmond, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Harrison Hot Springs, Kamloops, Castlegar, Fort St. John, Port Alberni, Mackenzie, Prince Rupert, and Fort St. John.