Vancouver hotels brace for strike

After weeks of negotiations, workers at four of Vancouver, B.C.'s biggest hotels are poised to go on strike. On Thursday morning, the bargaining committee members authorized a strike vote, which will cover workers at the Hyatt Regency, Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside, the Westin Bayshore Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel.

"We officially sent 72 hours strike notice to the hotels," Yoseph Haile of Unite Here Local 40 said today. The hotel workers are concerned about the ever-increasing cost of living in Vancouver. Their hope is to make hotel industry positions middle class jobs that can keep up with those costs.

Median home prices in the city have exceeded $700,000, and rents are on the rise.

The hospitality industry has become increasingly important to Vancouver's economy and this is expected to continue as the 2010 Winter Olympics draws attention to the city internationally. Many hotels have invested tens of millions of dollars in anticipation of the Games.

The hospitality workers also cited an increase in housekeeper workload that the hotels have failed to address.

Smith Munroe, general manager of the Renaissance Hotel, is already bracing for the impact of the strike.

"We've already suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars simply because of the strike vote that was taken and the uncertainty that was created amongst our clients," he told CTV News.

The fear now is that, with a decrease in tourism due to the high Canadian dollar, the lack of hotel staff will further turn off visitors.


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