The ball is in union members’ court as they review Viterra’s final offer

Farmers who do business with Viterra may be breathing a sigh of relief.

Late Thursday evening, Viterra presented its final offer to the Grain and General Services Union (GSU) Locals 1 & 2, which represents 436 employees. On Friday, Union officers gathered to review details of the offer and decided “it is in the best interest of the members to allow them the opportunity to vote on the company’s final offer” according to a statement from GSU.

Viterra’s offer is a 4-year agreement with a salary increase of 4.5 percent in year one, 3.75 percent in year two, and 2.5 percent in years 3 and 4 for a total increase of 13.25 percent. It also includes an annual bonus payment, under the company’s Short-Term Incentive Plan,  that employees would continue to be eligible for.

“We believe that we have provided an offer that is fair and reasonable, one that takes into account the needs of our employees, while balancing the needs of our business through long-term labour stability,” said Jordan Jakubowski, VP of Human Resources for Viterra Canada. “Throughout this process, we have been committed to bargaining in good faith, in keeping with our long history of working fairly and respectfully with our employees.”

General Secretary of the GSU Steve Torgerson says union members will be looking at and voting on the deal in the coming weeks.

“We want to give them as much time as possible to review it, ask questions, so that when we do meet with them they’re well educated and they have the information they need that they’ll be able to make the decision that is right for themselves and their co-workers.” Torgerson said.

While employees from GSU Local 1 (Country and Operation Maintenance workers at Viterra grain terminals) and Local 2 (employees at the Viterra Head Office in Regina) are reviewing the deal, Torgerson says they’re going to be working under what’s called the “work to rule” approach – doing only work that an employee is hired to do and not take on additional work, such as overtime.

A better-work life balance and respect in the workplace was one of the asks from the union, in addition to better wages. Torgerson claimed there have been multiple occasions where employees have worked excessive amounts of overtime and had their work schedule change at the last minute on more than once. Viterra said in response they’re “committed to safety in the workplace” and “committed to providing its employees with competitive pay and benefits within a performance-based process.”

The GSU will count all the ballots on January 19. Viterra, meanwhile, noted in a news release it “will closely monitor the union’s actions leading up to vote, and will strongly consider implementing a lockout should the union take any action that disrupts the company’s business activities between now and then.”

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