Hard Rock Casino Vancouver employees remain behind picket lines after they announced strike action more than a month ago. Despite that, the casino still tries to maintain its operations and keep the events schedule, but many people have decided to miss a show or a concert and respect the workers’ right to strike.
Since unionized workers at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver decided to walk off their jobs and hit the picket lines on May 11, the facility is being understaffed but operational. The strike started after employees represented by BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) rejected a collective agreement proposed by casino owners. The two sides have been trying to negotiate new contracts for over 16 months but so far, they have not been able to reach a deal. The casino is located in Coquitlam, one of the cities in Metro Vancouver, and is operated by the Great Canadian Gaming.
The 400 workers who are on strike are demanding fair wages, increased benefits, dependable work hours and respect at work. According to the union, workers have made multiple “reasonable” proposals but management has refused to accept all of them without offering satisfactory alternatives. In a statement last week, the BCGEU said that many of the workers have not received a pay raise in more than 10 years and need to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. At the same time, the union points out, Great Canadian Gaming has recently reported revenue growth of around 62 per cent in this quarter compared to the revenues generated in the same period last year.
Union members have urged people visiting the casino and even musicians who have scheduled performances to demonstrate their solidarity with the picket line. According to them, Hard Rock Casino Vancouver is a highly profitable casino but it still refuses to pay its employees living wages.
Pressure Builds up outside Hard Rock Casino
Recently, local media outlets reported the BCGEU has made a deal with an organization, so that its event scheduled for June 16 is not disturbed by striking workers. The organization, called Access Youth Outreach Services, is set to hold its Evening of Inspiration Gala at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock on Saturday. According to its executive director Jerome Bouvier, Gala guests would be allowed to cross the picket line.
The union, however, said that no deals have been made with any organizations. A BCGEU spokeswoman pointed out that they are asking everyone to respect the picket line. Many union members and casino workers also urged people on social media not to be “scabs”, or strikebreakers. While the casino is affected by the labour disruption but still operational, it hosts a variety of shows and events. Seeing social media posts regarding the strike, some people wrote they would not be going to a concert they have already bought tickets for.
One of the striking workers on the picket line even posted a video on Twitter in which a casino employee who is not striking can be seen outside the facility. There is, apparently, a conflict between him and the striking workers who are holding signs but after a while, he is “chased away” from the police, as the Twitter user explains.