Airline catering workers at Vancouver airport issue 72-hour strike notice

An Air Canada Airbus A320 jet (C-FPDN) takes off from Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, B.C. on Thursday, September 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

Some airline passengers flying out of Vancouver International Airport could find themselves travelling on an empty stomach.

Unionized workers with Gate Gourmet, the company that supplies meals, snacks and beverages to multiple airlines operating out of YVR, including Air Canada, Air France and KLM, have issued 72-hour strike notice.

Unite Here Local 40, which represents the workers, said the strike vote came after a series of “fruitless bargaining sessions,” and amid chronic understaffing for a growing workload.

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The catering workers prepare and assemble meals for aircraft and load and unload beverage and snack carts before and after flights.

The union says pandemic layoffs led to a “significant” reduction in staff, which has not been replaced amid a renewed surge in air travel.

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“Airline catering workers have been working day in and day out, serving travellers through the pandemic. As tourism came back this year and consumer prices hit 31-year highs, we are overworked and underpaid,” bargaining committee member and Gate Gourmet tray assembly worker Kiran Hundal said in a media release.

“We’ve attempted to address these issues in good faith with the company, but they continue to propose low wage increases and cuts to our health benefits.”

Global News has requested comment from Gate Gourmet.

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A spokesperson for the union said if members proceeded to a strike, it would involve picketing on airport grounds.

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It was not immediately clear how such picketing activity could affect other unionized employees working out of the airport.

Global News has requested comment from the unions representing Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Air Canada employees.

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