On the Picket Line

Quebec hotel workers strike, rally in fight for new contracts

By Beverly Bernardo
October 11, 2021

MONTREAL — Some 2,000 workers at a score of hotels organized by the CSN (Federation of National Trade Unions) held a one-day strike in Quebec Sept. 17. Three big rallies took place here, in Quebec City and in Sherbrooke.

“On the one hand the hotel owners tell us they have a drastic shortage of workers, and on the other they do everything to lengthen the conflict, presenting us with insulting offers that attack the buying power of our members,” said CSN President Caroline Senneville at the Montreal rally.

Faced with deadlocks at the negotiation table, workers at a dozen hotels voted to authorize 72-hour strikes whenever they choose. Workers at the Hilton in Quebec City and the DoubleTree in Montreal began an open-ended strike earlier this month.

“We have settled on wages, but we need to be treated with respect and acknowledgement of the difficulty of our work — the workload is horrific,” Mimi Bilic, a housekeeper at the DoubleTree, told the Militant on the picket line Sept. 18. “There’s a lot of injuries from repetitive strain. We make 24 beds a day, bending, reaching, etc. We get 30 minutes a room. It’s like Christmas when someone doesn’t use the shower or sleep in a bed.”

“If you don’t fight and stick together then they get away with their attacks — these companies have billions. There are human beings behind this story,” she said.

“They’re combining jobs. You have to be on the phone, reply to texts from customers, and talk with people at the front desk all at the same time,” reception worker Yuri Schmalhaus said. “You lose your focus and we workers suffer as well as the customers. This is supposed to be the hospitality industry!”

Doorman Karim Dahmani said, “With COVID-19 we weren’t demanding anything new, but they want to take things away. We can’t go backward.”

Send solidarity messages to infofc@csn.qc.ca and checks to CSN, 1601 De Lorimier Ave., Montreal, QC H2K 4M5.