Despite its employer group issuing 72-hour lockout notice to its employees, the vice-president of the Delta Kamloops and the operations manager of the Plaza said the Victoria Street hotels have no intention of locking out workers.
Hospitality Industrial Relations (HIR) is an employer group representing 32 hotels, motels, and liquor stores across B.C., including the Delta and Plaza hotels in Kamloops.
On Wednesday, April 28, HIR served lockout notice at the BC Labour Relations Board, which officially processed the 72-hour notice, which can take effect at 3:49 p.m. on Friday, April 30.
However, Delta Kamloops vice-president and general manager Bryan Pilbeam said there is no plan to lock out employees at his hotel.
“Delta Kamloops has absolutely zero intention of locking out our employees or negatively impacting them in any way,” Pilbeam told KTW. “We are speaking directly to our employees about that and and we are really disappointed that the union would spread untruths about it.”
In response, Robert Demand, executive director of Unite Here Local 40, the union representing workers at the Delta, Plaza and 30 other locations, said there seems to be disconnect between the employer group and its members.
“That’s great news if the GM of Delta Kamloops is telling his people they won’t lock them out,” Demand said. “But their bargaining agent served lockout notice at the BC Labour Relations Board on Wednesday and the board has officially processed that. The employers need to get together and decide whether they want to turn this into a worse labour dispute or whether they want to join us and mediate.”
Jacki Bailey, operations manager at the Plaza Hotel, told KTW management was caught off-guard with news of the lockout notice being issued by the employer group.
“I didn’t know anything about it until one of the employees said something to me,” Bailey said. “But, no, we are probably not going to lock out our employees.”
Bailey said all but three or four of the 23 or 24 staffers at the Plaza are in the union.
Demand said there are myriad issues at play, including the union seeking written extension of recall rights so employees can return to work once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and business returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.
He said the pandemic has led to employees being terminated this year and last year. When business rebounds, Demand alleged, employers are aiming to hire new workers at lower wages and fewer benefits.
Demand said HIR has a 40-point proposal that seeks to eliminate medical and pension plans, alter severance provisions, roll back paid time off and implement a multi-year wage freeze as part of a six-year contract, among other issues.
The union noted the lockout notice came shortly after the provincial government announced an additional $25 million in Circuit Breaker grants to hotel operators and $120 million to aid the economic recovery of the tourism sector.
Pilbeam said the lockout notice is part of the bargaining process, not different from a union serving a strike notice.
“I tell you we would not be lacking of employees from from work,” he said. “We value them. We want them here.”
Pilbeam said the Delta employs about 80 people, about 60 of whom belong to the union. They work in various areas of the hotel, including housekeeping , front desk, kitchen and restaurant.
Pilbeam said HIR and the union are working on myriad issues.
“It gets to a point where the two sides are not making progress and it’s escalating a little bit,” he said.
“It's right across the board. There's a number of items and it’s a very old document that doesn't have a lot of relevancy in terms of some of the ways that are operating. So, there's a lot of language to be cleaned up in it. There there are wages, of course — that's affecting it — but there's also all sorts of working conditions. It's a significant number of items, I guess I would say, that are being worked through and just not an awful lot of progress at this point.
“This is part of a bigger, provincial wide master agreement and most of it, quite frankly, is the based in in Vancouver, but because we're part of a master agreement, we're all lumped in together.”
Demand said the union had asked the provincial government to step in with pandemic-related support for employers and a guarantee of recall rights being extended to anybody laid off due to COVID-19.
He said the government declined to get involved in what it deemed a bargaining issue, a stance Demand labelled “a copout.”