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Richmond hotel workers seek support from cruise lines during long-standing strike

An open letter was sent to Carnival Corporation, Carnival UK and Cunard.
Employees of the now former Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond mark being on strike for two years with a rally. Photo submitted

Striking Richmond hotel workers are asking for support from a cruise corporation and its subsidiary cruise line.

Employees of Radisson Blu hotel on Cessna Drive (formerly Pacific Gateway Hotel) are asking cruise line operator Carnival Corporation and its luxury cruise subsidiary Cunard to stop using their hotel during an ongoing strike.

Workers at the hotel have been on strike for more than two years, after 143 of them, all long-term employees, were laid off during the pandemic.

According to the workers’ union, UNITE Here Local 40, Cunard has been using Radisson Blu hotel as an embarkment stop for passengers on Alaskan cruises from Vancouver.

In an open letter to the presidents of Carnival Corporation, Carnival UK and Cunard, the union is “urging” the luxury cruise line to stop using the hotel for the rest of the 2023 summer season and through 2024 or until the strike ends.

“Why isn’t Cunard putting Queen Elizabeth guests into a fully staffed hotel that treats workers with appropriate decency?” reads the letter.

It added, due to the limited dining and breakfast choices at Radisson Blu, guests are being transported to another hotel, Hilton Vancouver Airport, requiring them to cross an additional picket line.

The letter further highlighted the British Columbia Labour Relations Board’s notice the hotel had broken labour laws during the strike, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress and the BC Federation of Labour, both issuing a customer boycott of the hotel.

“We believe that this behaviour contradicts Cunard’s business partner code of conduct and ethics, which sets out an expectation for all business partners ‘to conduct their activities in a manner that adheres to applicable employment laws and respects human rights.’”

The union is asking Cunard to move guests from Radisson Blu to other hotels that aren’t on a strike or under a boycott.

-with files from Alan Campbell