'I don't feel safe anymore': Hotel worker union demands safety for women
Published Sunday, July 21, 2019 6:07PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 21, 2019 6:58PM PDT
The union representing hotel and food service workers in B.C. is challenging policy makers to protect women working at Vancouver hotels.
"We are representing the voice of women who want nothing more than safety, a good future in this job and to be able to have a thriving life in this city," said Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE local 40.
The union has penned a letter to the mayor and Vancouver city council to express concerns over issues with "persistent sexual harassment and sexual assault, often by guests, in highly sexualized and alcohol-infused environments."
"They are mothers, they are sisters, they are daughters and for that to be a part of the work environment it is unacceptable," Chan told CTV news Sunday
Yleine Demasana has worked as a hotel room attendant for five years and said an incident last October at a Vancouver hotel still haunts her.
Demasana said she was called by a guest to clean a room -- and only entered the room after her knocking and calling out were not answered.
"When I finally went inside the guest was there -- lying down on the bed and masturbating in front of me," Demasana said. "I don't feel safe anymore."
She adds to this day she still refuses to clean the particular room in which the incident took place.
UNITE HERE local 40 is campaigning to end what it calls a systematic problem within hotels in Vancouver.
This week it has narrowed its focus on one particular hotel where Chan said at least 10 woman have complained of sexual harassment.
"Women at the Hotel Georgia have reported being grabbed, being kissed and hearing inappropriate comments from guests," Chan said.
In June, almost 100 staff members protested, but the union claims nothing has been done.
Instead it said Hotel Georgia has demanded an apology from staff.
In a statement emailed to CTV News Monday morning, the hotel wrote that it has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and "does not condone discriminatory practices in any capacity.
"The hotel remains fully committed to providing a safe and fair work environment for all employees."
The union said it will take its concerns to Vancouver City Hall on Tuesday, demanding protection for women in an industry it calls "an adult playground."