Market Overview

Toronto: Hotel Workers Ask for Help from French Embassy as Novotel Boycott Looms in Ontario


TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 15, 2012) - Members of UNITE HERE, the union for hospitality workers in North America, paid simultaneous visits to the French Embassy in Ottawa and the French Consulate in Ontario Thursday afternoon. They delivered a letter of concern from Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) regarding an ongoing dispute at several Novotel hotels in Ontario, where workers have been organizing to join the union for four years. Novotel is a brand of Accor, a France-based hotel company that bills itself as the world's leading hotel operator.

Workers at three Ontario Novotel hotels (the Novotel Ottawa, the Novotel Mississauga and the Novotel North York) have been engaged in a union organizing drive since 2008. A number of workers have been disciplined and terminated after publicly supporting the decision to join the union, leading to charges at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) at each of the three properties. On September 27, 2012 the OLRB ruled Accor broke Ontario's labour laws at the Novotel Mississauga. Citing the severity of the company's anti-union campaign in the face of an organizing drive, the OLRB took the unusual step of awarding an "automatic certification" at the property, granting immediate union status to the 100 workers at the hotel. Separate cases relating to the Novotel North York and Novotel Ottawa, where similar management behaviours were reported, are ongoing.

"The Ontario Federation of Labour has singled out Accor's anti-union behaviour at these hotels as a leading example of the need to strengthen protection for workers in our province," wrote Ryan in his letter to the French Ambassador to Canada, Philippe Zeller. "I expect better from a French multi-national corporation. French-owned companies should be leading the way in setting a positive example for labour relations here in Ontario; not serving as a poster child for anti-union, anti-worker employer behaviour."

Several hundred hotel and hospitality workers and their supporters will gather at the Novotel North York Thursday evening to protest the company's anti-union behaviour.

"We want to send a message to local management and to Accor executives in Paris - we won't stop fighting for our rights," said Daniel Bastien, a former worker from the Novotel North York who now works as an organizer for UNITE HERE. "All we're asking is that Accor honour its commitment to respecting workers' rights here in Ontario."

Media contact:
Marc Hollin

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