Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer
SFU cafeteria workers had planned a delegation on February 4, 2021 in protest of unfair wages. In an email to The Peak, organizer Fipe Wong noted that “Food Services haven’t gotten a raise in three years” despite working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With heightened safety risks — such as the risk of exposure to COVID-19 — they felt that compensation should be required.
The food service workers currently have a contract with a sector of Compass Group Canada: Chartwells Canada. SFU’s website reports that in 2019, Chartwells was Canada’s leading food services supplier with “over 25,000 associates working in more than 2,200 location throughout the country.”
Wong noted the workers had planned a march from SFU Burnaby’s West Mall Centre to the SFU president’s office because “Compass [had] not responded to negotiations.” As noted on their Facebook page, they had planned to target President Joy Johnson directly in hope that she would support their initiative.
“We’re wanting to extend our contract now even for a short term,” said Wong.
On February 3, 2021 — the night before the scheduled rally — Wong informed The Peak that Compass had agreed to negotiate. Negotiations took place that day and the rally was cancelled as a result. They’re in the process of finalizing an agreement regarding their contract, added Wong.
The SFU food service workers had organized their event in partnership with UNITE HERE! Local 40, a branch of the BC Union for Hotel and Hospitality workers.
This is not the first time that SFU food services has partnered with UNITE HERE! Local 40. The event comes after a series of protests in 2017 after workers were fighting for job security with then President Andrew Petter.
At the time, the previous contract SFU with Chartwells was ending and SFU was taking the highest bid from competitors leaving 160 food services workers at SFU uncertain over the status of their jobs.
The Wake Up Rally Facebook page noted that more information will be released in regards to their decision. They encourage workers to connect with their respective union representatives for more information.