July 17, 2008


Canada's Viterra goes into mediation as workers' strikes drag into second week


Canadian grain handler Viterra and the union representing striking workers at its Regina head office met with a government-appointed mediator Tuesday and will meet again Wednesday, according to officials.


The workers at Viterra's head office in Regina went on strike July 7. Neither side had any progress to report as the strike moves through its second week.


A Viterra spokesperson also confirmed that mediator- facilitated discussions between the two sides were taking place, but could not say if there was any progress to report. The company maintains that the strike has not had any impact on its business.


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


The Saskatchewan workers voted in June to reject the company's last contract offer. Alberta and Manitoba members voted 85.5 percent in favor of accepting the same offer made by Viterra.


Viterra has offered to provide employees a 27-percent pay hike over five years. However, the union objected to the fact that raises would be tied to supervisor evaluations and would not be guaranteed.


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