Union representing hotel workers says its survey shows high levels of sexual harassment from guests

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      A tense labour situation at some Vancouver luxury hotels may not improve in the wake of a new survey about sexual harassment.

      Unite Here Local 40, which represents workers on the verge of job action, released the results from employees at the Hotel Georgia, Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore, Pinnacle Vancouver, and the soon to close Four Seasons Vancouver.

      Of the female workers surveyed, 56 percent of those at the Hotel Georgia claimed to have experienced "unwanted touching from guests".

      The union has issued strike notice and the hotel has issued lockout notice at the historic hotel at the corner of West Georgia and Howe streets in Vancouver.

      The survey was conducted in July. According to the union, 98 percent of the 190 workers to participated in the survey were women. The respondents worked as housekeepers, restaurant servers, hostesses and bartenders, room-service servers, cooks, and banquet servers.

      The largest percentage of those who felt uncomfortable as a result of guests' behaviour was at the Hotel Georgia, followed by the Westin Bayshore and the Hyatt Regency.

      Some women who work at the Hotel Georgia have filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that that the employer is not doing enough to protect them from an oversexualized work environment.

      None of the allegations have been proven before the tribunal, which has yet to hold a hearing.

      The union is calling for the installation of panic-button security devices for all frontline staff, bans on guests that have sexually harassed staff, and whistleblower protection for employees who come forward with complaints to ensure there's no retaliation.

      "The City of Vancouver is currently studying ways to regulate at the municipal level potential changes to improve the safety of women in the hospitality industry," the union stated in its report of the results of the survey. "We suggest that the province take a similar approach and study ways it can ensure the safety of workers in one of BC's most important industries."