Catering workers at YVR airport to escalates job action on Thursday

Unionized employees of Gate Gourmet will be chanting and speaking outside the Richmond office

Dozens of unionized catering workers at a demonstration at YVR airport on July 27 | Photo: Submitted

Dozens of unionized airline catering workers and allies are expected to escalate a job action outside Richmond's Gate Gourmet on Thursday, Sept. 1.

The workers are calling for their employer Gate Gourmet – a global provider of airline catering services – to increase wages in response to record-high inflation and the cost of living after their collective agreement expired on July 31st.

Unite Here Local 40 represents the airline catering workers who are employed by Gate Gourmet and serve dozens of airlines at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Workers informed the union that "at least five airlines stopped using Gate Gourmet as their kitchen" since they held a three-week overtime ban from Aug. 1 to 22, explained Mike Biskar, spokesperson for Unite Here Local 40.

"The union made a proposal to management eight days ago," said Biskar, adding that they received no response from Gate Gourmet since then.

"Tomorrow's rally is the beginning of escalating the job action as the contract has now been expired for an entire month."

Airline catering work includes preparing meals for travellers before boarding planes, delivering, loading and unloading directly on the aircraft with critical turnaround times to ensure flights depart on time.

Unite Here Local 40 said contracted airline catering workers have since been left behind while "big airlines such as Air Canada gave $10 million in executive bonuses after receiving a $5.9 billion bailout from the Canadian government."

Unionized workers voted 98 percent to authorize a strike and subsequently served 72 hours strike notice on on July 27.

On the same day, catering workers held a demonstration at YVR airport for a wage increase.

A protester at the time told a Richmond News reporter that they were on a $22 per hour wage despite working for Gate Gourmet for 26 years.

Employees at Gate Gourmet have also seen an increase in workload after "a series of fruitless bargaining sessions" and "staff shortages at YVR airport," according to Unite Here Local 40.

Richmond News