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Coast Hotel workers rally ahead of lockout

Harley Augustino, a negotiator for Unite Here Local 40, addresses a rally outside the Coast Inn of the North Wednesday evening. Unionized workers  at the hotel have been served with a 72-hour lockout notice. Bill Phillips photo
Harley Augustino, a negotiator for Unite Here Local 40, addresses a rally outside the Coast Inn of the North Wednesday evening. Unionized workers at the hotel have been served with a 72-hour lockout notice. Bill Phillips photo

About 50 people showed up for a rally outside the Coast Inn of the North Wednesday afternoon.

Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40 and supported by the North Central Labour Council and members from several other local unions, were served with a 72-hour lockout notice on Tuesday. The notice affects 250 workers at the Coast Inn of the North, Coast Bastion in Nanaimo, and Coast Victoria Harbourside.

Coast Hotels and the union have been bargaining for months. The union is calling for “livable wage” increases, protection from high workloads, an increased pension contribution, and an end to clawbacks of worker’s tips.

“I’ve worked at for Coast for 27 years,” said said Susan Bishop, a housekeeper at the hotel. “I have hip problems and hip surgery coming up. Our workload is so heavy that I take pain killers first thing in the morning just to work. I’m outraged that the company is threatening to lock us out right before Christmas. With what we’re paid, we live almost paycheque to paycheque. A lockout hurts my ability to pay my bills and my mortgage,”

Independent of the lockout notice, Laird Cronk, the new president of the BCFED, called for mediation between UNITE HERE Local 40 and Coast Hotels after workers at Nanaimo’s Coast Bastion held a one-day strike on Saturday. The union and the company are currently in mediation this Wednesday and Thursday. The union has set a deadline of midnight on December 13 to reach a settlement and has called on the labour movement to pull business from the hotels if no deal is reached.

“The labour movement has loyally supported the Coast Inn of the North and we are outraged by the company’s lockout notice. Our support will be a thing of the past if the company continues with this aggressively anti-union action that hurts workers,” said Natalie Fletcher, President of the North Central Labour Council of BC. She continued, “Prince George unions are ready to pull their business from the Coast hotel if a settlement is not reached by midnight on Thursday. If the company locks workers out over the holidays, some of that business may never come back.”