Viterra’s head office staff still walk the line

(Resource News International) — Strike action by unionized employees
at the Regina head office of Canada’s largest grain
handler continued Tuesday, a Viterra spokesperson

“It’s business as usual,” the spokesperson said, not wanting
any name to be used. “Management personnel are filling in for the
employees who are striking at the Regina office.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that there was little in the
way of fresh developments on the labour disruption.

“Company officials did meet on July 15 and 16 with Grain

Services Union (GSU) representatives and the mediator, and while there
was some minor word issues concerning the contract language that
was cleared up, there was no progress made on the fundamental
issues,” the company spokesperson said.

There has been no date set to resume talks, the spokesperson

There has been no physical lockout of GSU employees in
Saskatchewan by Viterra, the spokesperson said.

“The trains at the country elevators are being loaded and
they remain on schedule,” the spokesperson said.

Viterra, the new operating name for Saskatchewan Wheat Pool
after its acquisition of Agricore United last year, is in a contract
dispute with some 200 GSU member employees at its headquarters and
as many as 650 grain elevator workers in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan workers, whose last contract expired at the end of January, voted in June to reject the
company’s last contract offer. However, Alberta and Manitoba members voted
85.5 per cent in favour of accepting the same offer made by Viterra. The
workers at Viterra’s head office in Regina began striking July 7.

Viterra has offered to provide employees a 27 per cent pay hike over
five years. The deal includes a six per cent signing bonus and annual
performance based wage increases of six per cent in the first year and five per cent
in the next three, beginning November 1. It also carries
opportunities for further annual incentives in the range of five, 10
and 15 per cent of their pay.

But the union has previously said those pay increases are not going equally to employees in the bargaining unit and will vary based on performance. Officials from the Grain Services Union were not available for comment.

The GSU said on its web site on Friday that it has filed an unfair labour practice complaint against Viterra’s decision to impose a “rotating” lockout on July 7, in response to which the workers went on strike. ?

“There are several aspects of Viterra’s actions GSU is challenging. Not the least of these is GSU’s allegation that Viterra has engaged in bad faith bargaining in order to precipitate the collective bargaining disputes with GSU,” GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner said on the site.

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