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

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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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.

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Gate Gourmet did not return Global News Toronto’s comment request by publication time.

A spokesperson for WestJet told Global News Toronto in an email 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.”

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

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