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Novotel Workers Speak Out Against Employer Bullying and Reprisals

 

(TORONTO, ON) ─ At a media conference held at Queen’s Park today, workers from Novotel hotels in Ottawa and Toronto shared their experiences facing discipline, suspension and termination after they were identified as union supporters. Despite the global commitment of Accor, Novotel’s parent company, to “not oppose efforts to unionize its employees,” 14 of 25 union supporters at two hotels have been targeted. A union drive taking place at a third Novotel location in North York has not yet gone to a vote and already one union supporter has been disciplined.

“Since I came out in support of the union I’ve been repeatedly disciplined, including for handing out union information to my coworkers on my break,” said Ignacio Dadap, a room attendant at the Novotel Mississauga. “I’ve watched as a number of my colleagues have been stripped of all of their shifts once they have been identified as supporters of the union. I have been told by management to watch my back and to think about my family. Last week I was disciplined again and told that this could be my last.”

“I strongly believe that I was dismissed for simply exercising my right to form a union”, said Esperance Umwizaninde, a single mother of five, who worked as a room attendant at the Novotel Ottawa for four years before being let go. “It has been very difficult on my whole family.”

According to the Ontario Federation of Labour, the situation faced by Novotel workers underscores the need for new laws to protect low-wage workers, who are predominantly women, racialized people or new immigrants trying to make a better life for their families.

“Joining a union is one of the most effective ways for struggling workers to improve the lives of their families,” said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “On average, unionized workers in Canada earn $5.00 more per hour and are twice as likely to have a pension and benefits than their non-unionized counterparts. For women, the benefits are even more pronounced.”

The OFL called on the Ontario government to implement the following labour law reforms:

  • Educate workers about their rights
  • Immediately reinstate workers separated from employment during a union drive
  • Introduce card-based union certification
  • Establish successor rights for those in the contract sector

“Every Ontario worker deserves to be able to exercise their democratic rights without fear of reprisal, but current labour laws allow employers to bully, intimidate and fire employees with impunity. There is no such thing as workplace democracy in Ontario,” said Ryan. “We desperately need to bring balance back to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act and give vulnerable workers the tools to lift themselves out of poverty.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.

For more information on the Novotel worker campaign, visit: www.accornovotelwatch.org

For further information:

Sid Ryan, OFL President: 416-209-0066 (mobile)

Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 (mobile) *ENGLISH/FRENCH*

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