Casino Workers Hold Information Picket At Cape Breton Eagles Game

Written By Robyn McNeil on November 25, 2022
casino workers in sydeney ns hold information picket to share stories

An information picket by Casino Nova Scotia Sydney workers greeted attendees at Thursday night’s Cape Breton Eagles game.

Workers hope sharing their struggle will push Great Canadian Entertainment to bring them back or pay an enhanced severance.

“When you are a bully, you can get away with such things unless someone pushes you to change your ways,” said Mark Dobson, Atlantic director of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Casino workers held in years-long limbo

The union hasn’t filed notice to represent the affected workers officially. However, they have lent a hand in the workers’ attempts to regain their jobs.

According to the workers, their jobs ceased without notice with the pandemic closure. At the time, the casino didn’t communicate an expected return.

Workers say GCE never called them back when things returned to normal. Instead, the Nova Scotia casino made new part-time hires.

“They held us in limbo for two whole years, continually reassuring us we’d be back,” said a handout the workers shared.

The workers further allege that the company cancelled their medical benefits last December. The blow only intensified hardships for the affected workers and their families.

Also, in the handout: most affected workers were dealers and slot attendants at the casino since it opened in 1995. During that time, they enjoyed full benefits, including five weeks of vacation and $13.75 per hour.

“We are long past tired of management’s callous nature and lack of care for their employees.”

Great Canadian working toward severance agreement

Treatment of the workers since their work stoppage seems to fluctuate, said Dobson. While prohibited from retrieving personal items left in their lockers, workers have received an employee discount at the casino restaurant.

“None of this makes sense to us. If the relationship is over, then there are measures and processes to be followed.”

Additionally, Dobson is not aware of any workers receiving records of employment.

Chuck Keeling, GCE’s executive vice president of stakeholder engagement, community and social responsibility, responded.

He said GCE is committed to supporting all its workers.

“Unfortunately, we have seen significant disruption to our business over the last few years, including several government-mandated closures across our casinos nationwide. We regret that changing circumstances have resulted in some furloughed team members at the Sydney Casino not being able to return to work.”

Keeling also said the company has worked with the workers’ lawyer over the past six months toward a severance agreement.

“Unfortunately, these conversations have stalled despite our repeated attempts to move forward. Great Canadian Entertainment is grateful for the hard work and dedication of all our employees, and remains committed to discussing a path forward and reaching a fair agreement for all parties.”

Photo by Shutterstock
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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