Farm and trucking groups watching Viterra-Union negotiations closely as deadline approaches

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) are hoping a deal can be reached between Viterra and the union representing its employees before its too late.

Viterra and the Grain and General Services Union Locals 1 & 2 have been negotiating for over a year and have until 2 p.m. Friday to get something done, otherwise more than 400 workers will go on strike.

APAS president Ian Boxall said an agreement needs to be reached, otherwise a strike will affect farmers financially.

“I think they’re a big player when it comes to Western Canadian grain movement – both inland and at the port – and this looming strike that’s coming for Friday is concerning when it comes to farmers being able to move their contracted grain and move grain and cash-flow for producers as well that have contracts there.” Boxall said.

Should more than 400 employees go on strike at 2 p.m. Friday, Boxall noted it’s one less option for farmers to sell their grain to and would cause a ripple effect down to railways not getting grain to port.

“Once the grain is contracted there it’s not like you can sell it somewhere else, so there’s huge concerns for Saskatchewan producers when it comes to this. There is some areas where Viterra is the only one in town, so they need to get this figured out because we know if they go on strike for a week or two – any amount of time – that recovery takes months so once you’re behind, you’re behind for the rest of the shipping season.” he added.

George Henderson, the Director of Operations and Member Services with the STA, says custom truckers would be affected by a strike, though the severity of the impact depends on how long it would last.

“I think most farmers have a contract and they haul things in over a series of weeks or months, so it’s not going to have a huge impact unless it extends a long period of time. I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is over a period of time after a strike starts how the trucking industry is going to be affected more than anything else. Right now it’s just a perspective of what might happen and what might not.” Henderson said.

Some of the more than 400 employees that may walk off the job work at Viterra grain terminals around the province and some work at the Viterra Head Office in downtown Regina.

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