The union representing Fairmont Empress Hotel workers has put forward a strike notice set for 8 a.m. this coming Saturday.
According to union representatives, The Empress Hotel management’s push for concessions at the bargaining table with Unifor Local 4276 led to them serving notice of job action.
“The Empress’ owner needs to think again if he thinks we’re going to let him degrade working conditions,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “You can’t have a first-class hotel without first-class service and first-class working conditions.”
Local 4267 is seeking modest gains in wages, benefits, and workload. The Local represents almost 500 Empress workers in the housekeeping, culinary, groundskeeping, serving, guest relations, maintenance, and engineering departments.
“We’re confident that we can sign a new collective this week if the employer stops playing games with concessions,” said James Griffin, Local 4276 President. “Unifor members at the Empress are committed to the future of this historic hotel, but we’re not prepared to go backwards with our basic working conditions.”
According to Unifor, Hospitality is one of the largest employers in Canada, with more than 1.2 million people working in the sector.
The last time the two sides butted heads at the bargaining table was back in 2016 and although a strike was looming, an agreement was reached in hours prior.
The strike comes at the same time the tourism industry in Victoria is anticipating a decline due to the coronavirus outbreak as one of the largest demographics of tourists to the area come from Seattle – an area where there have already been nine deaths from the disease.