Unions representing Viterra workers in Sask. vote to authorize strike action

Members of the Grain and General Services Union Local 1 (Viterra Country Operations and Maintenance) and Local 2 (Viterra Regina Head Office) have reached an impasse with Viterra over bargaining negotiations.

After more than a year of negotiations, the unions, who have been frustrated by the lack of progress, members in both unions overwhelmingly voted to reject the company’s final offer. They voted to authorize strike action should it become necessary.

“The strong rejection vote across both Locals is no real surprise,” said GSU general secretary and bargaining spokesperson Steve Torgerson. “Members have been clear from the beginning that they need real wage increases written into their collective agreements. This final offer from Viterra does not provide that.”

The key issues at the heart of these negotiations include reliable wage increases, better work-family balance, health and safety and more tremendous respect in the workplace.

“With the Bunge acquisition of Viterra, I thought Viterra would come to the bargaining table prepared to reach a deal. I’m surprised these negotiations are still dragging on,” said Viterra employee and union bargaining committee member Kaylee Yanoshewski. “We’re asking for what is being seen in other recent contract settlements, and we want language in our collective agreement that clearly states what we will be earning.”

The rejection of the final offer comes right before the holiday season and near the end of a good harvest in parts of Western Canada.

“It is disheartening to see a company that boasts billions in profits and a large stake in Canadian grain handling fall short in valuing its most important asset – its employees,” Torgerson said. “Our members are asking their employer to recognize that their commitment and contributions significantly contribute to Viterra’s profit margins and that there is an important balance between profitability and the well-being of its workforce.”

The union is committed to finding a fair and equitable resolution that benefits both parties.

As Local 1 and 2 prepare for a potential strike, the unions say that the ball is now in Viterra’s court to address the concerns of its workforce and demonstrate a genuine commitment to its employees and customers.

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