Casino changes tips tune

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.

Despite initially telling its employees they would not be able to access their tips before striking Friday, Gateway Casino and Entertainment have changed their tune. 

On the eve of a casino-worker strike, Tanya Gabara, public relations director with Gateway Casino and Entertainment, said through discussions with the workers' union they've decided to allow for an "off-cycle tip distribution," and employees can collect their tips Thursday evening. 

A Kelowna Playtime Casino employee confirmed Thursday evening that their tips were being handed out.

Earlier in the day, an employee sent Castanet a memo posted at Kelowna's Playtime Casino informing employees they would not be distributing tips Thursday. The employee described the move as "essentially holding our tips hostage."

The casino workers will be walking off the job at 3:01 p.m. Friday.

ORIGINAL: 6:15 p.m.

As workers at four Southern Interior casinos prepare to walk off the job, there are accusations the employer is holding some of their money "hostage."

Castanet has obtained a note posted on a bulletin board in the employees break room which indicates tips, which would normally be distributed next Wednesday, will not be made available prior to any strike action, planned for Friday.

Notes appeared in both Kelowna and Vernon.

The Kelowna memo stated, "There will be no Off cycle preparation and distribution of tips, regardless of who is asking."

In Vernon, "This is just to inform all staff that tips cannot and will not be done on an off-cycle run. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to me directly."

An employee, who asked not to be identified, says, "since we will be on strike and won't be able to access them then, they are essentially holding our tips hostage."

More than 675 employees at Gateway Entertainment casinos in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops  will be in a legal strike position Thursday evening.

They issued 72-hour strike notice after arbitration efforts broke off Monday.

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