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YVR food workers threaten to strike over living wages

Airport food service disruptions could happen during spring break and Easter weekend travel rush.
YVR breaks passenger record in 2017; changes planned for the airport. Image / Richmond News archive

Food service workers at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond could start picketing after voting in favour of strike action on Thursday.

More than 200 workers, represented by Unite Here Local 40, could walk off their jobs to fight to earn a living wage in Metro Vancouver.

Unionized workers voted 85 per cent in favour of the strike action after months of bargaining with their employer SSP Canada Food Services.

These workers serve in the food outlets inside YVR airport's domestic and international terminals.

The job action could disrupt daily airport operations during spring break and Easter weekend, during which time YVR is expecting more than 1.1 million travellers.

The average food service wage at YVR is $18.27, while the living wage in Vancouver is around $25.68, according to union data.

In a survey conducted by the union, 89 per cent of YVR food service workers are having difficulty keeping up with bills or housing costs.

Ninety-two per cent of these workers had to cut back on other expenses each month including nearly 40 per cent of them buying less fresh food to meet their housing needs and 52 per cent unable to support their family members anymore, according to the survey.

In addition, workers are fighting to have their transit reimbursement program restored by SSP.

This program previously covered Uber and taxi rides for all food service employees who worked outside of public transit hours.

Since Feb. 1, workers had to pay for their own transit costs after their shift, which could start or end between 1 and 5 a.m.

The Richmond News has reached out to the employer.