On September 26th, 2019 over 1000 hotel employees from three major upscale hotels went on strike indefinitely in downtown Vancouver. They are fighting for better pay, improved benefits, and safer working conditions. The strike is about more than just money – it’s about safety. The Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Hotel Harbour Front are the hotels whose employees began the strike. Workers are demanding reasonable workloads, higher wages that will allow them to adequately provide for their families, job security, and safer working conditions; specifically, working conditions that are free of the threat of sexual harassment. Since the start of the strike other establishments such as Rosewood Hotel Georgia employees have joined in on the strike, as well.
Workers in Vancouver’s hotel industry are beginning to come forward and say that they have experienced many instances of harassment by guests – and they want the public to know about the hardships they have faced on the job. Casey Vanderveen, a restaurant server at Rosewood Hotel Georgia, says that she has been “solicited for sex tips, endured lewd comments, has been physically restrained, and sexually assaulted.” Casey is one of ten employees who have come forward with similar stories. In fact, more than two-thirds of workers surveyed at the Rosewood Hotel reported that they have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment from guests. This statistic is startling and begs a call to action. Workers believe that, due to the upscale nature of these hotels, guests think that they are entitled to do whatever they want. Hotel workers want them to know that that is not the case and are demanding improved safety procedures on the job.
It’s clear that the hotel industry needs to employ improved preventative safety measures. Much of the problem either stems from the fact that workers are alone with guests, not in a public place, or are unable to call for help should they need to. SafetyLine’s wearable panic button solves this issue. Compatible with our mobile app, our lone worker panic button allows workers to declare an emergency discretely, without having to pull out their mobile device. In a situation involving a violent or aggressive guest, this feature could be lifesaving.
In addition to our panic button, SafetyLine also allows workers to dial-in to either check-in or declare an emergency. Employees can set their desired check-in intervals, depending on the riskiness of the situation – if they miss an interval, a monitor will be notified. This is again very useful, and potentially lifesaving, in situations where the employee may not be able to declare an emergency. Hence, the employee’s lack of declaration is what will signal that something that they need help.
Hotel Workers Safety Across the Border
New Jersey is the first state to legally require that all workers carry panic buttons (Read more about this new regulation in the United States). Several main hotel companies are following suit by providing employees with some sort of emergency alert device, as well. Major chains in the US like the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriot, and Wyndham hotels have pledged to provide their workers with devices by 2020.
Safety is an Employer’s Duty
No one should ever have to work in fear. It is the responsibility of the employer to keep her workers safe. There should never exist a situation at work where an employee doesn’t feel 100% confident about their safety. It is an employer’s duty to their employees to do everything they can to create a safe working environment. SafetyLine is a key component in making this happen. Given the current hospitality situation in Vancouver, now is the perfect time for hotels across the country to start thinking about employing preventative safety measures.