Union members at Nanaimo's Coast Bastion go on 24-hour strike

By Spencer Sterritt
December 8, 2018 - 7:53am

UNITE HERE Local 40 union members picketing outside the Coast Bastion hotel in downtown Nanaimo starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Coast Bastion guests will have to get through a crowd of striking workers to enter the hotel.

Members of UNITE HERE Local 40, which includes all hotel and Minnoz restaurant staff but excludes managers, went of a 24-hour strike starting Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. The previous strike notice issued by the union expired at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7.

Server and union shop steward Garry Constable told NanaimoNewsNOW he was compelled to act because the workload for housekeepers is increasing and their pension doesn't allow them to “retire with dignity.”

“The housekeepers are being worked to the bone, doing sometimes 30 beds a day and 15 rooms. It's breaking them...they're fighting over supplies, there's no sheets. (And) with the cost of living skyrocketing in Nanaimo, we need a living wage or we're going to be falling under minimum wage in the near future.”

Tourism data from Chemistry Consulting showed hotel occupancy rates in Nanaimo increased to 75 per cent in 2018, with the average revenue per available room up $10 to $100.

Local 40 organizer Matthew De Marchi previously told NanaimoNewsNOW the increased occupancy at the hotel means staff are “working at a pace that's unsustainable. Obviously we want the hotel to be doing well but at the same time have to make sure the work is safe and people are making a living wage.”

The 24-hour strike is being held before bargaining negotiations with Coast Hotels on Dec. 12 and 13.

Constable said there won't be further strike action before the negotiations, but more protests are possible after the talks.

“Hopefully this 24-hour strike is enough to wake them up and get them back to the table with some real bargaining.”

In an earlier emailed statement, Coast Hotels said they've negotiated in good faith to reach a fair and equitable deal.

"We do not think that strike action is positive for anyone involved, especially our ambassadors...We want to keep everyone working so staff don’t suffer undue stress and can enjoy the holiday season with their families.

"We’re committed to keeping all staff on the job and working to reach an agreement as quickly and productively as possible," the statement said.

 

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