Gate Gourmet, striking airline catering workers do not reach agreement

By Hayley McGoldrick and The Canadian Press

Striking airline catering workers have not reached an agreement with employer Gate Gourmet, Teamsters Canada said Friday.

About 800 food service staff at Toronto’s Pearson airport went on strike Tuesday, leaving thousands of passengers without meals this week.

The workers cook, package and deliver food and beverages to planes for service on board, with Air Canada and WestJet having to limit meal offerings after the job action.

Air Canada acknowledged that some long-haul flights were significantly delayed over the past couple of days due to the work stoppage, but said they numbered “very few” relative to overall flight volume.

“Our priority is always to provide customers the best possible travel experience and that includes ensuring flights are properly catered, even if it takes extra time,” said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email.

Teamsters Canada said employees, who make between $17.69 and $25.10 per hour, are willing to return to work if their Swiss-owned employer offers to pay them a living wage.

Gate Gourmet has said it is disappointed the union rejected its latest offer of a 12 per cent raise over three years and hopes to end the strike shortly.

“The union presented a new proposal aligned on the employer’s initial offer, with targeted $2 to $3 hourly raises for certain job categories. Gate Gourmet flatly rejected our good-faith proposal and left the bargaining table,” said a spokesperson for Teamsters Canada in a statement.

“The employer has not agreed to new dates for bargaining, despite airlines experiencing significant delays as they wait for catering, or simply depart without food.”

A spokesperson with Teamsters Canada confirmed with CityNews last week that a walkout would disrupt between 230 and 250 flights daily, equivalent to roughly 25 per cent of daily flights travelling through Toronto Pearson.

“We have been making every effort to try to come to a fair agreement for workers, the company, and passengers. Let me be clear – our union made significant movement at the bargaining table today,” said Martin Cerqua, President of Teamsters Local Union 647.

“Unfortunately, Gate Gourmet is more interested in keeping their workers close to the poverty line than they are in bargaining. This strike will be over the minute Gate Gourmet decides to value its employees as much as it values profits.”

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