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Monday,  May 20, 2024 9:22 AM 

Toronto food service strike forces airlines to pare down menus

  • Air
  •   04-16-2024  12:08 pm
  •   Pax Global Media

Toronto food service strike forces airlines to pare down menus
Prepared meals on an aircraft. (File photo/Milkovasa/Shutterstock)
Pax Global Media

More than 800 workers that provide food and beverages on flights leaving Toronto Pearson International Airport went on strike Tuesday (April 16).

Employees of Gate Gourmet, an airline catering and logistics company, voted 96 per cent to reject a final offer from the company, Teamsters Local Union 647 said in a statement.

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

The union also said in its statement that Gate Gourmet workers are paid on average between $17.69 and $20 per hour, between $2 and $6 per hour below other airline catering companies in Toronto and Gate Gourmet workers in Vancouver.

It also claims slashed staffing levels have led to a rise in workplace accidents.

Impacted airlines, including WestJet, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Air India, Aero Mexico, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Jetlines and Air Canada, are expected to have little to no food onboard flights leaving Toronto.

According to reporting from Global News, Gate Gourmet said in a statement it’s “disappointed” about the strike and that it had offered a 12 per cent pay raise over three years prior to the union deciding to strike.

“On Friday, the union informed us that they would cease negotiations and demanded a final offer, which Gate Gourmet Canada presented,” it said. “The union walked away from the negotiating table, despite our belief that Gate Gourmet’s offer is fair and market competitive.

“At our operation in Toronto, we have established contingency plans with our airline customers to minimize any impact on them and their passengers. 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.”

Affected airlines are starting to make changes to their food services because of the strike.

“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,” an Air Canada spokesperson told Global News Toronto in a statement Tuesday.

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

The spokesperson also said that flights within North America that last more than two hours will have fewer menu options, while flights under two hours will not have hot meals available.

Snacks and water service will remain the same.

WestJet also issued a statement on its website, confirming that its Boeing 737 flights leaving Pearson will be impacted.

“Guests who are eligible to receive an inflight meal including those in the Premium cabin or extended comfort seating, and all guests travelling on transatlantic flights will receive either an alternative option or a food and beverage voucher for use in the terminal, pre-departure,” it said. “In addition, WestJet is advising guests travelling to or from Toronto to plan ahead and bring an extra snack and/or beverage for their journey.”

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