Viterra’s AgPro staff vote to take deal

Unionized workers at the former AgPro Grain elevators in Alberta and Manitoba have voted in favour of owner Viterra’s offer on a new contract, the company reported Monday.

Of the workers who voted, 85.5 per cent voted to accept Viterra’s offer of a five-year agreement, the company said in a release.

The Grain Services Union (GSU) held votes for AgPro Manitoba on June 2-3 and for AgPro Alberta June 9-13, the company said. Voting results for the GSU’s Saskatchewan maintenance and operations unit, which includes 573 Viterra employees, are expected on June 20.

The Regina bargaining unit, representing 194 out of 437 staff at the company’s head office, voted to reject the company’s offer on June 10.

If the company and union can’t reach an agreement, Viterra has said the earliest date for a strike or lockout would be July 2, although the union has pledged not to strike until July 7 if a deal isn’t reached.

Viterra said its offer includes a six per cent compensation payment on signing and annual increases (based on an individual employee’s performance) of six, five, five and five per cent beginning Nov. 1, 2008.

“With today’s results, Viterra now has approximately 630 employees in Alberta and about 570 employees in Saskatchewan and about 160 employees in Manitoba who enjoy programs that provide for the same system of pay, benefit and pension plans, and vacations and statutory holidays,” the company said.

A GSU spokesman has previously said the “rollbacks and takeaways that Viterra has included in its final offer are not acceptable.”

Viterra has previously said it has plans in place to continue operations if some of its staff end up striking or locked out, but added in a recent quarterly financial report that “any labour difficulties would be disruptive to the corporation’s operations and could have an adverse impact on its financial results.”

AgPro Grain was the former operating name for Saskatchewan Wheat Pool’s elevator operations in Alberta and Manitoba before that company took over its larger rival, Winnipeg-based Agricore United, and rebranded all its grain handling operations as Viterra last year.

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