Hotel workers picket, rally as strike deadline comes and goes

Thousands of hotel workers took to the streets Friday, to protest against stalled negotiations at 23 hotels across Quebec. Two hotels - the Mariott Château Champlain and the Ritz Carlton - have reached a tentative deal with their unionized staff.

Mariott Château Champlain, Ritz Carlton settle, 23 other hotels still without deal with unions

Striking hotel workers rally in Montreal Friday, on the first day of a 3-day strike to protest against stalled negotiations. (CBC)

Hundreds of hotel workers took to the streets Friday, to protest against stalled negotiations at 23 hotels across Quebec.

Dressed in sombreros and colourful ponchos and accompanied by a mariachi band, they dubbed their demonstration a fiesta. 

However, the party atmosphere belied the fact that their union, the Fédération du commerce–CSN, has been given a three-day strike mandate.

The union reached a last-minute deal with Montreal's Ritz-Carlton, which will see workers get a 13 per cent pay increase over four years. A similar deal was reached earlier in the week with the Marriott Château Champlain.

Along with salary, the CSN says its main demands are better holiday and severance pay. The demands are justified, union negotiators say, because of the recent increase in tourism in Quebec. 

"It's not just summer 2016 that was exceptional, there has been growth in the hotel industry for several years," union spokesperson Michel Valiquette told Radio-Canada.

"We're in a period of growth. And the principal drivers of this growth are the workers. So they deserve their fair share in terms of salary and work conditions." 

The Hôtel des Gouverneurs Place Dupuis is one of the hotels affected by a three-day walkout. (Radio-Canada)

Michel Paré, president of the union at Bonaventure Hotel, said workers' main demands include job protection, better vacation pay and salaries.
He agrees with Valiquette that workers' demands are justified given how busy hotels are. 

"I'm working at the front desk, and we see it.  We see families from Europe, they're there three days and they spend $1,200 on the room. This is great. It's great for us," he said.

Gina Doré has worked at the Quality Suites in Pointe Claire for 23 years. She says the money is the biggest issue for her.

"I'm a single mother and I'm more thinking about the salary aspect of it and the financial part of it, because I need every penny that I earn. So if we can go for the max, that would be a good thing."

Here is a list of the affected hotels:

Montreal

  • Hôtel des Gouverneurs Place Dupuis
  • Hôtel Clarendon
  • Queen Elizabeth Hotel
  • Quality Suites de Pointe-Claire
  • ​Quality Inn Centre-ville
  • Hôtel Bonaventure
  • Hôtel Lord Berri
  • ​Hôtel Ruby Foo's
  • Holiday Inn Select Sinomonde
  • Comfort Inn Pointe-Claire
  • Comfort Inn Dorval
  • Les Suites Faubourg St Laurent

​Laval

  • Holiday Inn Laval
  • Hilton Laval

Quebec City

  • Hôtel Quality
  • Hilton Hotel
  • Delta Hotel
  • Pur Hotel Quebec
  • Hôtel Classique
  • ​Manoir Du Lac Delage (Stoneham)

​Eastern Townships

  • Hôtellerie Jardins de Ville
  • Hôtel Delta Sherbrooke
  • Estrimont Suites et Spa

With files from CBC reporter Elias Abboud