Holiday Inn workers stand up for Toronto service sector

Veronica, a room attendant at the Holiday Inn express, on the picket line, in North York.

By John DG

30 Norfinch Drive may not be the centre of the city, but right now you could call it the centre of the fight to decide wether hospitality jobs in the city of Toronto will be a path to the middle class or a poverty sentence.

To keep warm and occupied the workers mix up the regular picket line chants of ‘fair contract now’ with ‘I love soca’ and blast ‘Follow the Leader’ on the sound system.

Veronica, a room attendant at the Holiday Inn, explained the strike issues to The workers have been without a contract for 18 months and management is pressing on every front even resisting back dating the meager 6.3% raise that they are offering over the entire life of a 4 year contract. She points out the room attendants are already working harder for the same $14.66/hr after the addition of extra amenities like fridges, microwaves, extra pillows, and glass showers which all take more time to clean.

The small hotel has just 36 workers, 24 full-time and 12 part-time, but the management is resisting signing on to the same standards that have been agreed on by dozens of other GTA hotels. The Hamilton based Vrancor Group, which aquired the hotel two years ago, is expanding in Toronto and may be testing the union’s resolve before bringing its union busting, speed ups, and low pay to other hotels.

This is the first strike for the hotel, but workers genuinely felt they had little choice given the lousy contract on offer. Veronica sums up what is at stake, “we are not fighting for us alone, we are fighting for the whole industry”

Morale is solid on the picket line, traffic is being delayed, and not one of the employees have crossed the picket line in the 12 day old strike. Workers feel confident that the strike is having an effect and report that in some cases 2 replacement workers are needed to do the job of one bargaining unit member.

Solidarity rallies are planed for the near future.

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