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Unite Here! Novotel Workers Strike

G20 delegates awake to striking service staff with vuvulzelas

by Peter Aleksa

“We’re a small group of workers who are just trying to maintain decent jobs with this global giant.”  Photo: Activstilles
“We’re a small group of workers who are just trying to maintain decent jobs with this global giant.” Photo: Activstilles

G20 delegates from France and Indonesia and reporters from the Agence France Presse staying at the Hotel Novotel Toronto Centre had a rude wake up call yesterday morning when 80 workers from Unite Here! Local 75 walked out at 06:30 blowing vuvuzelas, the African horns recently thrust into the popular consciousness by World Cup fans.

Workers from non-union Novatel hotels in North York, Mississauga, and Ottawa came out to support the strikers—all too familiar with Novatel’s “disgusting union busting techniques” after having faced intimidation, interrogations, and firings in response to attempts to unionize, according to Daniel Bastien, a worker at Novotel North York. They were joined by members of the Steel Workers Union, the CEP, CUPE, the samba squad Rhythms of Resistance, and various G20 Resistance groups out to show their solidarity.

The strike was triggered after Accor, the French company that owns Novatel, walked away from negotiations without addressing an offer put on the table by the union, which included basic demands for a pension plan and guaranteeing workers enough hours to make a living.

“We’re a small group of workers who are just trying to maintain decent jobs with this global giant,” said Rik Hockley, a Banquet Server and member of the bargaining committee. Workers and supporters will be back on the picket line today from 06:00 to 18:00.


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