Toronto, ON–On Tuesday, August 23, UNITE HERE President/Hospitality Industry John Wilhelm joined Toronto area hotel workers at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel to demand fairness for hotel workers and safe working conditions for room attendants. Major hotel corporations are in a "bed war" in hotel rooms across North America with bigger mattresses, heavy duvets, more pillows and more amenities. Unsafe increases in work, combined with heavy lifting and strain means room attendants are increasingly reporting symptoms of numbness, stiffness, swelling, and burning pain as a result of their work. Room attendants at the Royal York are required to clean 16 rooms per day. "Hotel corporations compete with each other for the most luxurious bed, but it’s the room attendants who are paying the price in work-related injuries," said Paul Clifford, President, Local 75. "The workload is increasing every year with no end in sight. Repetitive strain injuries are common and on the rise."
"I’ve been a room attendant at the Royal York for over 15 years," said Myrna Stoller. "The work is hard–there is a lot of lifting, bending and strain on my body. To get by, I often take pain medication because of my arm and back. So many of us feel the pain. That’s why we are fighting back." Workers at the Fairmont Royal York are currently in contract negotiations. On January 31, 2006, 4,000 workers at 23 Toronto hotels will also be in contract negotiations with major hotel corporations.