Vancouver airport food-service workers vote in favour of strike

Strike action could be possible during a spring break travel rush at Vancouver International Airport after food-service workers voted in favour of it Thursday.

Unite Here Local 40 issued a statement Friday morning saying 85 per cent of the food-service workers represented by the union voted in favour of strike action after months of bargaining with SSP Canada Food Services. The union said the strike action could see 200 workers from food outlets in domestic and international terminals walk off the job as they fight for higher wages.

“Job actions would disrupt daily airport operations as the spring break and Easter weekend rush approaches, with over 1.1 million passengers projected to travel through YVR airport in the next few weeks,” the union’s statement said.

According to data collected by the union, the average wage made by food workers at the airport is $18.27, even though Metro Vancouver’s living wage is $25.68.

The union conducted a survey last month, which said 89 per cent of YVR food-service workers are having a hard time keeping up with their bills and housing costs, while 92 per cent said they’ve had to cut back on expenses to get by each month.

According to Unite Here Local 40, the majority of food-service workers at the airport are racialized women, while the airport’s staff – who earn a living wage, by airport policy – are mostly men and 65 per cent are white.

The union also said the workers want the transit reimbursement program reinstated. That program, which covered Uber and taxi rides for airport staff who worked outside of SkyTrain hours, ended on Feb. 1.

“With this strike vote, food-service workers send a strong message: end wage discrimination at YVR,” the union’s statement said. “Picket lines could go up after workers issue 72-hour strike notice.”

A 72-hour strike notice has not been announced.

CTV News Vancouver has reached out to YVR and SSP for comment.  

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