Christmas parties and events planned for Saturday at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo will be affected as unionized hotel workers are on a 24-hour strike.
Octavian Cadabeschi, Unite Here Local 40 spokesman, said strike notice, submitted by the union Tuesday, expired as of 2:30 p.m. Friday and workers are “on strike footing.” Negotiations are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The union represents all of the workers at the hotel, including at Minnoz Restaurant and Lounge, and they were out behind pickets at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Cadabeschi said management is manning the front desk.
“So basically where we’re at is that, it’s a one-day strike action and we are really hoping to get the company’s attention with this and communicate with them that they better take negotiations coming up this week seriously or we will have to go back out,” said Cadabeschi.
As for people who have events planned at the hotel, Cadabeschi said people should be mindful of the labour situation.
“They should definitely be aware of the fact that they’re making plans at a hotel where a picket line [is] up,” said Cadabeschi. “Beyond that, we’re asking that people not cross the picket line….”
Cadabeschi said the union’s issues relate to affordability.
“Basically, the primary issue is that the hotel … has been doing very well for many years,” said Cadabeschi. “The tourism industry has been booming, not just in Nanaimo, but all across B.C. and at the same time, the cost of living continues to go up and so this is the moment where our members can either have their wages and have their standard go up with the hotel boom or they’ll end up falling behind as they have been.
“Wages are a really big issue. At the same time, one of the other consequences of a boom and increased number of visitors, is that workloads are also really, really high and so housekeepers have been fighting for protection around workload and have been fighting for respect and the management has refused to do anything around that.”
Linda Hagen, Coast Hotels’ director of brand engagement and internal auditor, said the hotel will provide limited services and understands there are people who don’t want to cross a picket line. There will be no penalty or cancellation fee in that situation.
The company is focused on finding a resolution and making sure it gets to the table to continue bargaining, Hagen said. The company is convinced it can reach an agreement.
“As in any negotiations from the past, up to and including this one, it’s about reaching a deal that is fair,” said Hagen. “We certainly want to make sure that the people working with Coast Hotels can make a good living doing the work they do. We need to be equitable for us to be able to move forward and be sustainable as a hotel and as a company overall. So it’s always about finding that spot where you find that fair, equitable agreement.”
Coast Hotels supports mediation if it needs to go that route, Hagen said. Cadabeschi said the union doesn’t have a position on mediation at this point.