Viterra workers expected to approve new contract

Viterra country and head office employees are expected to vote in January on tentative collective agreements reached with the grain company in mid-December.

The Grain and General Services Union Local 1 and 2 committees and Viterra management agreed to settlements just days before Glencore’s takeover of Viterra was completed Dec. 17.

A report to GSU members noted the unusual circumstances under which bargaining took place.

“Were all the gains and changes you were seeking achieved? No, they were not,” said the report. “At the same time, GSU’s bargaining committees were abundantly aware that there are significant advantages for employees represented by a union in having settled collective agreements while the next chapters of the Glencore takeover unfold.”

Ratification meetings are scheduled between Jan. 7 and 17. The company has already ratified the agreement.

GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner said Local 1 represents between 900 and 1,000 workers in country operations and maintenance in Saskatchewan, while Local 2 represents 200 workers in the Regina head office. Workers at the Calgary head office, which Glencore is moving back to Regina, were not GSU members.

Issues addressed in the agreements include hours of work and worker adjustment language, he said.

Wagner said there are still questions about what happens once Glencore’s divestitures to Richardson International and Agrium are complete.

“We still need more information about when and how,” he said.

Richardson is to acquire 19 elevators and the associated agri-businesses. Ten of those are in Saskatchewan and involve 120 GSU members, Wagner said.

The Agrium purchase of agri-retail outlets would involve between 220 and 250 GSU workers.

Some Western Producer staff members are members of the GSU but form a different local and are not part of this particular bargaining group.

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