Airline catering staff vote on pay cuts

Employees at struggling airline caterer Gate Gourmet will vote today on whether to take deep cuts in wages and lose benefits to keep their jobs.

The vote comes after Gate Gourmet management warned unions and employees that refusing cuts could set the stage for bankruptcy.

The company is currently pursuing a rescue plan with creditors since missing debt payments in December 2004 and the end of a three-month freeze on a bankruptcy filing on 11 April.

In-flight catering has faced turbulent times since the US terror attacks in 2003, with research from the University of Surrey finding caterers have fared worse than carriers.

Gate Gourmet, which has 22,000 employees in the US and Europe, has further challenges to face as it is also a creditor of United Airlines, which is itself in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A spokesman for the American union Unite Here told Personnel Today sister publication Caterer and Hotelkeeper: “A bankruptcy for (Gate Gourmet) would cause tragic conditions for the air travel industry, to spread from the bankrupt airline all the way to its supplier.”

Unite Here and the UK’s Transport & General Workers Union will announce the results of the employee ballot tomorrow.

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