Toronto Pearson flights could be without food, drink as strike looms

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Canadian airlines more delayed compared to American peers: reports
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Canadians leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport could soon be without food and beverage on their flight due to a potential strike.

More than 800 workers at Gate Gourmet, an airline catering and logistics company, could go on strike as early as Tuesday, with the union representing them saying they’re paid “well below industry standards.”

“We are in a cost-of-living crisis, but Gate Gourmet is ignoring their employees’ families’ basic needs and won’t agree to pay workers a living wage,” said lead union negotiator and president of Teamsters Local Union 647, Martin Cerqua, in a news release Tuesday.

“We’re going on strike unless this company steps up to the plate and finally acknowledges how expensive life has gotten.”

Click to play video: 'Westjet pilots set to walk off job Friday'
Westjet pilots set to walk off job Friday

The workers are tasked with cooking, packing and delivering meals, snacks, beverages and other supplies to planes for in-flight service, the union said. If a strike occurs, it will impact airlines leaving the airport, including Air Canada, West Jet, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Air India, Aero Mexico, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Jetlines, the union added.

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A spokesperson for WestJet told Global News Toronto in an email Wednesday its catering team has prepared contingency plans to limit the impact of any potential disruption. A spokesperson for Air Canada said it was “premature to speculate.”

Wage issues aside, Teamsters Local Union 647, which represents roughly 3,000 food industry workers across Ontario, said Gate Gourmet has also slashed staffing levels since the COVID-19 pandemic. The union claimed that move has led to a rise in workplace accidents, including seven hi-lift truck drivers who have been injured in the past three months.

Click to play video: 'Toronto Pearson International Airport hopes to avoid peak travel woes with more staffing'
Toronto Pearson International Airport hopes to avoid peak travel woes with more staffing

In a statement, Gate Gourmet told Global News Toronto it continues to engage in “good faith discussions” with the union.

“Safety is our number one priority in the workplace, and we continuously evaluate staffing levels and operational procedures to ensure alignment with business demands and mitigate the risk of injury,” the company said.

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“While the collective bargaining process can be lengthy, we are committed to reaching a new labour agreement as soon as possible and without any disruption.”

Pearson is Canada’s largest and busiest international airport, and sees millions of passengers travel through it yearly.

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