Following months of negotiations over their new collective agreement with casino management, workers at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver announced a strike on Friday. Despite the labour disruption, the facility remains open with all slot machines available for guest play, Jimmy Ho, General Manager at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, said in a statement.
The strike at the largest casino in the province of British Columbia is still underway and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam continues to operate with most services available to customers. The strike started Friday, May 11, and dozens of employees held a rally in front of the gaming facility to show that their demands need to be met by management. The news was announced by the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, which represents more than 74,000 workers across the province, including 400 Hard Rock Casino Vancouver employees. The labour union issued a 72-hour notice on Thursday after talks between them and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation broke down earlier last week.
According to Jimmy Ho, the casino has been negotiating the terms of a new collective agreement with the union for the past 16 months but a deal could not be reached. In the official statement, now available on the casino website, he writes that the facility will continue to operate despite the labour disruption. Not all services, however, will be offered. While all slot machines will be available for guest play, table games will be limited to baccarat and blackjack. Two restaurants will remain open, namely Neptune Restaurant and The Unlisted, and all shows and events at the Molson Canadian Theatre will proceed as scheduled. The casino will not cancel the Encore Rewards Loyalty Program.
Hard Rock Casino Vancouver is located in the City of Coquitlam in Metro Vancouver and is the largest gambling facility in the province by gaming space. It offers 1,000 slot machines, 70 gaming tables, a poker room and a high-limit baccarat room, all spreading on an area of 80,000 sq. ft. Previously known as Boulevard Casino, it is operated by Great Canadian Gaming, one of the largest gambling and hospitality operators in Canada, but after an agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2013, it was re-branded as Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.
Disappointment over Wages, Health Benefits, and More
Around Hard Rock Casino Vancouver 400 workers are represented by the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGSEU), including cashiers, slot attendants, table game workers, count room staff, kitchen staff, security guards and guest services personnel. They joined the union in 2016 and have started negotiations over their collective agreement with the casino in 2017. Back in February, 99.5 per cent of employees voted in favour of taking strike action, which led to mediation between the two sides as required by the British Columbia Labour Code.
BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said that many of the casino employees did not receive a wage increase in more than 10 years. The final offering presented by the company was similar to the deal offered to employees at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, according to the union. Any pay rise, however, would not matter as the minimum wage in British Columbia increases and within two years, casino workers would receive the minimum wage if they agree to the terms in the proposed contract, the BCGEU explains.
There are more issues that need to be addressed, however, in the collective agreement, according to the union. These include improved health benefits and a better and more stable pension plan. In addition, workers want schedules to be fair and the work hours to be more balanced. Jimmy Ho described the proposed collective agreement as “at or above industry standards” and added that it did not include rollbacks. Smith did not agree, explaining that if they had signed the deal, workers would certainly have seen rollbacks.