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GSU to vote on Viterra’s “final” offer

Unionized workers at Viterra’s Regina head office and Saskatchewan grain elevators will vote starting this week on what the company calls its “last, best and final” contract offers.

The voting process will at least temporarily end any work disruptions at the grain company’s Saskatchewan elevators as farmers in the province continue with harvest, though the head office picket will continue.

The company’s head office workers, represented by the Grain Services Union (GSU), have been picketing the company’s downtown Victoria Avenue office since July 7, while GSU members at eight Viterra country facilities have put up pickets in recent weeks.

Viterra said in a release Saturday that the company and GSU resumed talks Friday, and that the union has agreed to take Viterra’s offers on a five-year contract to its members for a vote.

Regina office employees were to be presented with the offer at an information meeting set for Monday afternoon (Sept. 15) and are expected to vote on it Tuesday (Sept. 16). The GSU said on its website that Viterra members in the head office bargaining unit are to report to the picket line Monday for their regular shifts.

Also, the company said Saturday, the GSU has agreed to suspend its strike activity at Saskatchewan country locations until the outcome of a vote is known. Viterra also said it will lift the lockouts it imposed on those employees who took part in strike activity at eight country facilities.

The GSU said on its site that meeting for members in the country operations and maintenance units are being arranged, and told workers in those units to “please report to work on Monday.”

“We are very pleased that the GSU’s bargaining committee is taking this decision to employees for a vote. We respect the process and will now eagerly await a decision from them,” Viterra chief operating officer Fran Malecha said in the company’s release.

Viterra’s offers to the affected bargaining units includes a compensation payment of six per cent followed by general wage increases of six, five, five and five per cent over the contract’s five-year term, although employees’ individual wage hikes will be based on performance.

Also in this offer, the company said, employees “have the potential to add to their compensation through an annual incentive program in the range of five, 10 and 15 per cent.”

The company said this offer is the same as was accepted in June by Alberta and Manitoba employees who work at Viterra facilities previously run by Saskatchewan Wheat Pool under the name AgPro Grain.

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