Dozens of locked-out Hilton Metrotown workers in Burnaby held a protest outside the South Korean consulate in Vancouver on Thursday, urging their ambassador to Canada, Keung Ryong Chang, to resolve the four-month lockout involving a prominent Seoul-based hotel owner that started with what the union called "mass firings" of workers.
The workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, have been locked out by hotel management for 126 days. Hilton Metrotown is owned by DSDL Co., which is headquartered in Seoul.
The action follows multi-city actions in Canada and the U.S. Workers and allies recently delegated South Korean embassies in Ottawa and Washington D.C., as well as consulates in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Boston, and Seattle. They met with consulate and embassy officials, leafletted consulate staff, and demonstrated outside consulate buildings.
“Instead of waiting for the pandemic to ease to bring workers back to their jobs, Hilton Metrotown fired almost 100 of them and locked out the rest in April this year,” said a news release.
The BC Federation of Labour issued a boycott of Hilton Metrotown in May, which could cost the hotel up to $3 million in lost business alone, the union said. On August 8, the Alberta Federation of Labour kicked off a boycott of three DSDL-owned hotels in Edmonton.
In a letter to the South Korean ambassador, UNITE HERE Local 40 president Zailda Chan expressed concerns that the “crisis” at Hilton Metrotown could negatively impact good faith and trust between communities of the two countries.
“It’s very unfair and shameful how DSDL refuses to bring us back despite repeated calls from workers and their supporters across Canada and the U.S. Many of us staff are long-term and women. We deserve to keep our jobs because we worked hard to help this hotel grow and become successful over 21 years,” said Liza Secretaria, locked-out night auditor at Hilton Metrotown.