On Friday, February 26, workers from a Canadian quarantine hotel in Vancouver announced that they have voted to go on strike.*
The Pacific Gateway Hotel staff are represented by UNITE HERE Local 40 and the organization issued a press release on Friday morning about the reasoning behind the strike.
Why are they going on strike?
"The workers voted to strike after the hotel followed through on its threat to terminate laid-off workers, including women with up to 19 years of service at the hotel," according to the statement, which also says the move would especially impact women of colour.
"Pacific Gateway's actions will hit women of colour the hardest. Future job losses will disproportionately impact older immigrant women from the South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino communities who have served the hotel for decades," it says.
The release claims that the hotel is in refusal to bring back their staff once the business recovers, therefore opting to terminate them.
Apparently, the hotel plans to terminate most of the staff by the end of March.
"Picket lines could go up any time after workers issue 72-hour strike notice," says the release.
Narcity has reached out to the Pacific Gateway Hotel for comment and we will update this article when we receive a response.
Why are they allegedly losing their jobs?
The statement claims that workers have been displaced from their jobs since "the government brought in the Red Cross to replace them and perform similar job duties."
A union representative told Narcity in an interview that the Pacific Gateway has been a designated quarantine hotel for nearly a year now.
While the employees are protected for up to 12 months, that period has nearly lapsed and terminations have apparently already begun.
The release says that while Trudeau's government has acknowledged that women and racialized Canadians have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, the federal quartine hotels are "destroying the livelihoods of Canada's most vulnerable workers."
What are staff saying?
"I'm a single mom with two kids ages 12 and 13. I need my job. The government should be protecting our jobs so we can return when business comes back. If Pacific Gateway gets away with firing us, other hotels will follow suit," said Elisa Cardona, a laid-off hostess who has worked at Pacific Gateway for seven years.
"That's why we are going to fight back; we can't let this happen. Will Justin Trudeau do the same? Or will he be crossing our picket line when we strike?" said Cardona.
Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40, said that "women at this hotel are on the verge of losing everything they worked so hard for when they immigrated to Canada. Will Prime Minister Trudeau allow this to happen?"
Chan went on to say that "we cannot allow hotels like Pacific Gateway to roll back the clock on women's economic livelihoods. When the picket line goes up, we expect the Prime Minister to join us in saying 'No' to unequal women in the hotel industry."
*This article has been updated.