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Airline catering workers at Pearson airport go on strike | CBC News

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Some flights departing from Toronto’s Pearson airport could have fewer food and beverage options onboard as workers at an airline catering company went on strike Tuesday, the union representing the employees says.

Teamsters Local Union 647 says more than 800 workers at Gate Gourmet walked off the job at midnight after members voted overwhelmingly to reject a final offer from the company.

The workers are responsible for cooking, packing and delivering meals, snacks and drinks for service on up to 250 flights each day and “the labour dispute will prove highly disruptive,” the union said in a statement.

“Our members accepted a wage freeze during the pandemic to help this company survive. Now their managers brag about how profitable their operations have become at Pearson, while proposing wage increases as low as 89 cents an hour,” said Local Union 647 president Martin Cerqua.

According to the union, the workers are paid less than their Gate Gourmet counterparts at Vancouver International Airport and other airline catering companies. Reduced staffing levels have led to a rise in workplace accidents, the union says.

Gate Gourmet said in a statement it is disappointed the “union’s refusal to negotiate” has led to strike action.

“The union walked away from the negotiating table, despite our belief that Gate Gourmet’s offer is fair and market competitive,” the company said. The final offer presented to workers included a 12 per cent raise over three years, according to the company.

“We remain committed to doing right by our employees and ending the strike so that we can continue to partner with our airlines customers and serve the travelling public,” the statement said. 

Air Canada, the airline the union says will be most affected by the strike, and WestJet both told CBC Toronto they have contingency plans in place.

“We anticipate there will be no impact on our international flights, but we plan to make some adjustments to food and beverage service on certain North American flights departing from and, in some cases on shorter routes, returning to Toronto,” a spokesperson for Air Canada said in an email.

“Short-haul flights of less than two hours duration being most impacted.”

Meanwhile, West Jet said flights operating on Boeing 737 aircraft arriving or departing from Pearson “may experience an inconsistent food or beverage offering.”

Passengers who are eligible for an in-flight meal and those on trans-Atlantic flights will be given an “alternative option” or a food voucher than can be used in departure terminals before take off, West Jet said.

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