A bus carrying a group of pilots and flight attendants for German airline Lufthansa allegedly ran over a protestor’s foot outside their layover hotel in Vancouver last week after a group of recently fired workers from the hotel tried to stop them from reaching the entrance and getting inside.
The ugly scenes started last Thursday just a short time after a group of Lufthansa crew had arrived in Canada when protestors organized by the UNITE HERE Local 40 union met the pilots and flight attendants outside Vancouver International Airport waving placards and approaching individual crew members.
UNITE HERE accuses Lufthansa of repeatedly crossing a picket line by continuing to put its crew in the Hilton Metrotown during their layovers in Vancouver. The hotel allegedly locked out workers last month after firing 97 staff owing to the pandemic and then claimed an exemption to avoid paying larger severance payouts under group termination rules.
While some organizations have agreed not to use the hotel until the dispute has been resolved, Lufthansa has continued to use the Hilton Metrotown for the last few weeks. UNITE HERE was hoping its demonstration at YVR would get Lufthansa to cancel its lucrative contract with Hilton and heap pressure on the hotel to settle the dispute with its workers.
While the protest outside the airport came as a surprise to the pilots and flight attendants who had just worked a long-haul flight, it did at least pass off peacefully. UNITE HERE, however, admits that “tensions rose” when the protests continued outside the hotel last weekend.
In an effort to stop another set of Lufthansa crew from crossing their picket line, workers formed a human barrier to stop the crew bus from reaching the hotel entrance. At this point, one of the workers was apparently struck and injured by the bus.
“It was scary to witness and it could have been so much worse,” commented Arif Hassanali, one of the workers who has been locked out. “I am shocked that hotels guests were literally driven into workers and their allies rightfully protesting the harmful actions of the Hilton,” he continued.
The protestor sustained a “non-life threatening foot injury” according to the union and is currently recovering.
Protests have continued outside the hotel with some directly targeting Lufthansa crew members who continue to stay at the hotel.
Courtesy: One Mile at a Time
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.