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Jagmeet Singh joins striking Richmond hotels workers on the picket line again

The NDP leader spoke to the Richmond News while showing solidarity for the Sheraton employees

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh arrived in Richmond on Monday for the second time in two months to once again support striking hotel workers.

Sheraton Vancouver Airport staff walked off the job on June 14 and have been on strike for nine weeks in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

Singh is hoping to continue to put pressure on the Westminster Highway hotel to get back to the negotiating table to help the Unite Here Local 40 members get fair wages and a properly negotiated contract.

“This company is making big profits but not willing to pay the workers, who make the profits, a fair wage,” said Singh, adding union members should be able to have a “contract that is freely and properly negotiated.”

“We’re calling on this employer to sit down and negotiate with the workers for a fair contract.

“(Workers) are asking to be able to work a job, pay for groceries and pay their bills and that is a reasonable thing. We are supporting the workers all the way on this.”

When asked by the Richmond News what he and the NDP are doing to help the striking employees, Singh said he is working to give more power to employees in unions.

“We believe that the fastest ticket to getting fair wages and working conditions is by joining a union so I will be continuing to push to make it easier to join a union and to strengthen the power of workers to get fairness.

“What the workers are asking is what all workers deserve. To have a salary that allows you to pay the bills and puts food on the table.

“We are standing in solidarity, I am standing in solidarity with these workers demanding what every worker in this country should get.”

Shaelyn Arnould, a Richmond resident and employee at the Sheraton, described the strike as a “wild ride” with the company not making many moves to negotiate or meet at the bargaining table.

Arnould told the News that many emails and letters the company sends to their employees are “very negative.”

“It really shows that they just don’t really care about us or the work that we do,” said Arnould.

“But we are still here just doing our thing and fighting for our rights until they do.”

Arnould said she works at the Sheraton as a lead barista, “supposedly making livable wages,” but found herself struggling financially with getting paid just slightly above minimum wage at $19 an hour.

Despite living in a two-bedroom apartment with three people, Arnould said more than half her monthly income went to rent alone.

“With the economy and inflation of rent prices, everything is skyrocketing. We have no choice but to put up the fight until we can make our wages something that’s livable on,” said Arnould.

“It’s a good feeling to know that on a federal level, the NDP has our back and… hopefully it sends some sort of message to our managers and to the company that putting people in more of a hole than they need to be is not the way to handle a labour dispute.”