all Intercontinental Hotel news (Centra, Crowne Plaza)

Westin Hotel workers fight for their jobs

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The rise of Unite Union



TV3's current affairs program The Nation recently did a profile on Unite, looking at the new approach Unite has brought to unions fighting for a better deal for low paid workers.

Crowne Plaza hotel strike hits Brisbane Broncos

The Brisbane Broncos won’t be experiencing full kiwi hospitality this weekend. The team is staying at Auckland’s plush Crowne Plaza hotel, where room attendants and other staff have gone on strike.
Around twenty members of Unite union are on strike; calling for a pay rise and better working conditions. “We are underpaid and overworked” says Unite delegate Tapa Jago. “We are fed up with the low pay and heavy workloads”.

The hotel industry is one of the lowest paid sectors, says Unite organiser Daphna Whitmore. “The starting rate is just $13 an hour” she said. “The hotel made a gross profit of $8.5 million in 2008 but claims it cannot afford to lift the wages.”

OCIS lockout ends

An agreement has been reached today between Unite Union and OCIS over the terms of a Collective Agreement for staff. The settlement also involves the withdrawal of the lockout notice, payment for members who lost shifts yesterday and today, withdrawal of the legal action against the union for alleged bad faith bargaining and a pay rise that will deliver a 50c an hour increase in the base rate and the opportunity to earn up to another $1 an hour depending on achievement of some quality and performance standards.

Latest round of talks with Centra sees improvements

Unite union is doing group bargaining with the Centra Hotel management. Rather than sign a collective agreement that the union was not happy with Unite opted to conduct ongoing bargaining all year round.

The latest round of talks has resulted in a number of improvements.


  • There will be more fulltime positions made available. Two are being advertised in the housekeeping department.

  • More linen is being supplied, to alleviate shortages.

  • New uniforms for those who need them are being supplied.

  • An unpleasant duties allowance of $30 is being implemented. The union requested $25 for cleaning up vomit, blood, excrement, used condoms etc. The company said they will pay $30. Union fully agreed!

Industry agreement to lift wages in hotels needed

"It's time the hotel industry lifted wages across the board," says Unite hotel organiser Daphna Whitmore.

Speaking at the annual hotel industry conference in May, she proposed that the large hotel chains agree to raise the wages above the minimum.

"If the major hotels signed up to a code to lift the rates it would prevent the sort of competition among hotels that has driven down wages," she said.

She was speaking as part of a panel on the problem of recruiting and retaining staff in the hospitality industry.

The panel included Peter Gee, general manager of Stamford Plaza hotel; Paul Richardson, vice president of Accor hotel and Andrew Shaw an employment lawyer from Lane Neave.

The big speed-up - Housekeeping work overloads

Since 2006 in the United States the union UNITE-HERE has been campaigning for hotel workers' rights. The problems highlighted in the piece below will be familiar to housekeeping staff in New Zealand.


  • Hotel housekeepers are facing increasing injuries due to heavy workloads. In most hotels, housekeepers must clean 15 or more rooms per day.

  • Hotel housekeepers must rush to meet a daily quota of cleaned rooms. They frequently skip rest periods and meals in order to finish, and even work off the clock to meet their quotas.

  • In recent years, corporate hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton have increased both the pace and the amount of work performed by housekeepers.

Intercontinental agreement

Unite members at Centra Hotel and Crowne Plaza in Auckland, and Holiday Inn in Wellington have starting bargaining for a collective agreement.
This will be a multi-employer agreement as each hotel has different owners, although they are all managed by IHG.
The claims include:
•A pay rise of 8%; more secure hours of work – more fulltime jobs
•minimum shift lengths of 4 hours (currently 3 hours)
•15 minute paid rest breaks (up from 10 minutes) and more union rights
•Sick leave is 7 days a year at present and members are asking for that to increase to 10 with unlimited accumulation.
The staff also want allowances for shoes, grooming and nightshift work.

Centra hotel workers get a massive Toot for Support

Centra hotel workers get a massive Toot for Support

by Daphna Whitmore
Unite Hotels Organiser

Standing outside Auckland’s Centra Airport hotel at 4pm the noise of tooting cars is deafening. There are fifty people lining the curb of the busy street with placards saying Toot for Support, On Strike, Stronger Together. The music is pumping, the picket line is almost dancing.
This is the third strike in three weeks.
Centra staff want a 5 percent pay rise – roughly an extra $20 or $30 a week - to help pay the bills. Most are on just $12 or $13 an hour. Many are on part-time hours; some weeks they don’t earn enough to pay the rent and put food on the table. Some are deeply in debt to loan sharks.

Wake Up Call for Hotels

A surge in hotel strikes over the past month is giving a solid base for the launch of Unite Union’s hotel campaign this month.
Hotel staff may work in luxurious surroundings but they are paid poverty wages. It’s as if two worlds exist and much of what the guests see is just an illusion. The pristine hotel room appears as if no one has ever been there before, yet moments earlier a cleaner has been under enormous pressure to make it spotless. An average room goes for $300 a night, but the woman who worked frantically for 20 minutes getting it ready for the next guest is paid the equivalent of $5 a room. To get through her workload she probably skipped her tea breaks.

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