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Striking hotel workers protest outside YVR, call out Air Canada for lack of support


Dozens of Richmond hotel workers rallied outside Vancouver International Airport Friday morning, protesting Air Canada’s lack of support for their union's strike action.

"Air Canada is sending its airline guests across our picket lines," said Sharan Pawa, United Here Local 40 spokesperson.

“We’re here to protest that, to ask Air Canada to respect our striking hotel worker members and also their own guests, and not send their own airline passengers across the picket line and put them in the middle of a labour dispute.”

Air Canada told CTV News it doesn't comment on third-party matters.

Pawa says other airlines including Westjet, Porter and Japan Airlines have accommodated the union's request, sending any passengers whose flights may be delayed or canceled to other hotels in the area.

Approximately 200 hotel staff across three Richmond hotels walked off the job in mid-June. The union's main demand is higher wages.

"Many of the workers have been there for, you know, over 10 years. Long-term staff. So they're fighting for living wages," said Pawa.

The union includes, among other positions, house-cleaning workers, front desk employees, and restaurant staff. The current liveable wage in Vancouver is $24.08 an hour.

Pawa says the union and its employer, Larco Hospitality, haven't spoken in weeks.

One expert tells CTV News with the current economic and affordability climate, he's not surprised the negotiations have stalled.

“You’ve got employees that are really critical for your operations that need more money to live and some of these businesses, in some cases, can’t afford it," said Cameron Laker, CEO of Mindfield. "So it’s a bit of a challenge. They deserve more money, they should get more money and some of the businesses just flat out can’t afford it in their model without jacking prices so much that it threatens their own business.”

He says similar disputes are playing out across the country in various industries, whether private or public sector. Laker credits interest rates, inflation and staffing shortages in helping create a perfect storm for labour unrest.

"It's more challenging now to kind of figure out the staffing problem than I think it's ever been," said Laker, who's been working in the staffing and recruiting field for 18 years.

CTV News reached out to Larco Hospitality for comment but didn't receive a response. Top Stories

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