Novotel managers erred in applying labour rules, hotel says

OBJ Staff
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Management at the local Novotel Hotel has agreed to allow its workers to discuss union activities during the workday, providing they are on a break.

The Novotel Hotel in downtown Ottawa.

The change in policy is the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute between hotel management and labour organizers attempting to form a union at the downtown hotel.

Rafael Ballester, the general manager of the hotel, said in a letter sent to workers last month that management made a mistake in telling employees they could not discuss union activities while they were on the premises but not working.

“It has been brought to our attention by our lawyers that we have been applying our ‘no solicitation’ rule at the hotel in a manner which is inconsistent with the Ontario Labour laws,” the letter reads. “We apologize for this.”

OBJ received a copy of the letter, which bears Mr. Ballester’s signature, from union officials. When reached by phone, a hotel spokesperson declined to comment.

Workers voted on a unionization proposal in April 2010 but labour organizing group Unite Here alleged some employees were pressured into voting against it. The decision was before the Ontario Labour Relations Board as recently as last April.

Mr. Ballester’s letter said employees have a right to make a decision on unionization free from “threats or discrimination.”

Any employee who was punished for discussing union activities while on break “will have their discipline removed,” the letter read.

Organizations: Ontario Labour Relations Board

Geographic location: Ontario

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