'Mass firings' alleged at Burnaby Hilton at Metrotown

'Get back to the table'

“The hotel was like a family to me but not any longer.”

Those are the words of Sophea Kong, an employee of Burnaby's Hilton at Metrotown, who worked as a banquet server there for 15 years and was terminated last month along with many others in what the union has termed "mass firings."

Last week, 22 more long-term employees were also laid-off bringing total job losses to nearly 100.

On Tuesday, the hotel issued a 72-hour lockout notice, sparking UNITE HERE Local 40 the union for hospitality workers in B.C., to call on other unions and politicians to condemn the hotel chain’s actions.

"The Hilton Metrotown is waging an attack on its workers. Hotel management is using mass pandemic firings as an extortion tactic to roll back jobs to minimum wage, gut union healthcare benefits and eliminate worker's pensions,” said UNITE HERE local 40 organizer Kevin Malone at a press conference Tuesday.

"Workers have asked management to guarantee they will bring them back to their jobs when work becomes available again and the Hilton Metrotown has refused," Malone said.

Kong was a speaker at the press conference who shared how the layoffs have affected her and her children.

“I'm a single mom supporting and raising three boys on this job. It was hard but I did it,” Kong said. "This job allowed me to earn enough money to cover my mortgage, car insurance and other bills and now my savings are empty.”

Baljinder Kahlon was also laid off by the Hilton location. At the press conference, she told media she is calling on Hilton management to “do the right thing.”

“Extend our recall rights so people can go back to work. The pandemic should not be used as a reason,” Kahlon said.

Also at the press conference was Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, who urged Hilton management to reconsider the layoffs and potential lockdown.

“Get back to the table, deal with the layoff and recall provision of the contract, extend that until after this pandemic is over and allow these workers the dignity to return to their jobs as they all want to do,” Hurley said.

The Metrotown Hilton will be in a position to lock out workers as early as Friday morning. Glacier Media has reached out to the company for comment.

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