The leader of the federal NDP has waded into the fight to reinstate 143 laid-off hotel workers in Richmond.
The workers – mostly immigrant women – were let go earlier this year by the Pacific Gateway Hotel on Cessna Drive, near YVR.
Since the start of the pandemic, the hotel has been used by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as a quarantine hotel for travellers landing in Canada and has contracted the Red Cross to run its operations, effectively displacing the long-term employees.
The union that represents the workers, Unite Here Local 40, has tried and failed to get the attention of the government, including that of new Richmond Centre MP, Wilson Miao, despite the hotel being in his constituency.
Now NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP health critic Don Davies have thrown their weight behind the union’s pleas, by personally writing to Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, urging the government to take action to have the workers reinstated.
In his letter, Singh referenced the “terrible treatment of Pacific Gateway workers on the government’s watch.”
He pointed out to Minister Duclos that the union has told him that the hotel has no intention of returning “terminated staff to their jobs and wants to roll back wages to the minimum wage” which will “eliminate their health and pension plans…
“This is clearly unacceptable. That the government is continuing to give millions in public funds to a company while its workers are on strike and continues to hire contractors that cross their picket line, does not show your commitment to support workers and the work of unions.”
Singh said in the letter that he was adding his voice to calls for the “federal government move out of the Pacific Gateway Hotel immediately.
“I am adding my voice to Unite Here Local 40 members who deserve to be part of the economic recovery and the right to return to their jobs.
“To date, the government has not taken action to resolve this situation. I implore you to update the union and to act on their requests to move out of Pacific Gateway Hotel this month. I also urge you to use every available tool at your disposal to urge the hotel to reinstate workers to their jobs.”
The Richmond News has reached out to the hotel for comment.
The News also reached out last week to Minister Duclos and Richmond MP Miao for comment.
Miao has not replied and the spokesperson for the Minister offered a bland statement, which failed to recognize or comment on the plight of the 143 laid-off hotel workers.
The statement read: "Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. To keep our communities safe, we've created quarantine sites for travellers entering Canada who are unable to isolate at home.
"Keeping travellers and staff at these sites safe requires proper training in infection prevention and control practices. The Public Health Agency of Canada works with management to offer training to hotel staff, and when necessary, hires a qualified service provider to handle gaps in staffing requirements.”