Viterra braces for GSU vote

While hopeful it will reach a new agreement with over 850 unionized employees, grain handler Viterra says its plans are in place in case of a summer strike or lockout.

Viterra and the Grain Services Union (GSU) will wrap up 60 days of conciliation talks Tuesday as GSU employees continue to vote at meetings on whether to accept the company’s latest contract offer or go on strike.

Employees at the former AgPro Grain facilities in Manitoba voted earlier this week, while 194 Regina office staff, staff at the former AgPro facilities in Alberta and the former Saskatchewan Wheat Pool’s 573-member maintenance and operations unit all vote starting Monday, with the final results expected June 20.

The earliest notification of a strike or lockout is July 2 if the company and union don’t reach an agreement, Viterra said in a release Friday.

However, the union said on its web site it has informed Viterra any strike action would not start before July 7 if a settlement is not reached.

“GSU members will be facing major challenges in the weeks ahead as we try our best to bargain renewed collective agreements with Viterra,” the union wrote.

“We have laid the necessary groundwork to continue serving our customers in the event of a labour disruption,” Viterra chief operating officer Fran Malecha said in a release Friday. “While the term of the conciliator is coming to a close, we do remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached.”

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