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Union disputes N.S. government over fate of workers at hotel turned provincial shelter

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HALIFAX -

The representative working with 80 unionized employees at the Dartmouth hotel turning into a provincial shelter and health clinic has disputed the Nova Scotia government’s assertion that all the current staff have been offered alternate employment.

In an interview with CTV News Friday, Lionel MacEachern of United Food & Commercial Workers Canada said workers he heard from are “very upset.”

“The only ones that got offered work are the ones that are non-union, which would be under the management role,” he said. “I guess my talk with the Premier’s Office fell on deaf ears.”

He said the workers’ contract with the company that operates the hotel, Manga Hotels in Toronto, contains stipulations that mean workers will not get severance after being laid off for more than 10 months.

The province’s contract with Manga will allow them to use 190 rooms at the hotel for shelter diversion and on-site health clinic services, running from May 1 to March 24, 2024.

Unless a laid-off worker is brought back within the 10-month period, MacEachern says, the employee then loses seniority and is essentially terminated from the contract.

In a video news conference Friday, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services Karla MacFarlane insisted all the employees were being taken care of.

“I understand there are employment opportunities through the current owner, as we will just be leasing for a year,” she said. “Everyone has, by the employer, been offered to either stay at the hotel or been offered a new position elsewhere.”

MacFarlane added government has involved the Labour, Skills, and Immigration Department to help any that need assistance.

MacEachern says as far as he understands, about 30 food and beverage workers, including buffet staff, started receiving their layoff notices Friday.

He says housekeeping and other staff will need go through the union’s bumping protocol.

“We’re going to have to start filing grievances,” he said, “and hoping to put some pressure on the company to pay out some severance.”

 

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