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Photos: Richmond hotel workers mark third year of strike

Workers went on strike in 2021 after 143 employees were terminated by the hotel.

"Radisson, on strike!" chanted dozens of striking hotel workers outside the Radisson Blu Vancouver Airport Hotel on Friday afternoon.

The workers, joined by allies from across the region, were rallying to commemorate the third anniversary of the strike.

Workers at the Radisson, formerly known as the Pacific Gateway  Hotel, walked off the job on May 3, 2021 in solidarity after the employer terminated 143 long-term staff.

Since then, workers have continued to fight for their return as well as job security, family-supporting wages and benefits.

"It's (been) very hard for us," said Pardeep Thandi, a room attendant who started working at the hotel in 2002.

"(Picketing on) snowing, raining or sunny days, we (had a) very hard time in the (past) three years."

Thandi told the Richmond News the strike has also been hard on her family, as she was unable to provide for them during the strike.

Thandi has now found a new job to pay her bills, but she continues to picket at the Radisson for a chance to return to work with her co-workers.

"This is like (the) same as my home," she explained.

"So I want to retire here."

Robert Demand, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 40, the union representing the striking workers, told rally attendees workers are fighting to better the lives of every worker in Canada.

"The Radisson strikers didn't ask for this fight. The employer decided that they were going to use the pandemic to take away decades of struggle and achievements of this hotel," he said.

"They wanted to use the pandemic to strip the people, not only of their rights, not only of their economic livelihood, but ultimately, we saw what they really wanted to do. And that was to get rid of workers."

The hotel was understood to have received more than $33 million from the federal government while serving as a quarantine hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last September, the News reported the hotel is now subject to random inspections by a Labour Relations Board officer after it was caught using scabs multiple times. The union has since filed more charges against the employer at the Labour Relations Board.

A boycott of the hotel was issued by the BC Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress, and the City of Richmond resolved not to support events or promote business with the hotel until the matter is resolved.

According to the union, they are currently in mediation with the Radisson. However, no future dates have been scheduled as of now.

- with Richmond News files

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