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06/03/2010

Hotel workers vote to strike with G20 looming

From Star reporter Katie Daubs:

Just three weeks before the G20 summit, workers at 32 Toronto hotels have voted 94 per cent in favour of authorizing a strike if negotiations break down.

“If we do not reach an agreement, we intend to take a strike action on June 24,” Paul Clifford, president of Unite Here Local 75, said Thursday.

However, Clifford said that workers at only one hotel – the Novotel on the Esplanade – would actually go on strike, even though a third of the unionized hotels are currently in negotiations. About 100 workers at the Novotel are Local 75 members.

Local 75 does not want to disrupt the city during the summit of world leaders, he said.

The French trade delegation and media covering the G20 plan to stay at the Novotel. A strike would mean “no service, picket lines and rallies” at the hotel, said Clifford.

At issue are what Local 75 calls “precarious work conditions” including shortened shifts, split shifts and “hyper-flexible” scheduling.

“There have been a lot of cuts to both shifts and services that are really having an impact on both workers and hotel guests,” Cicely Phillips, a Royal York room attendant and vice-president of Unite Here Local 75, said earlier.

The union represents 5,500 front desk workers, porters, cleaners and cooks at hotels including the Fairmont Royal York, Le Royal Meridien King Edward and the Hyatt Regency.

The summit will be held in Toronto on June 26-27.

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