Viterra responded to claims made by the Grain Services Union, which represents 436 of its employees, that the company did not fully pay a 4.5 percent wage increase, retroactive to January 1st, 2023, as part of a deal ratified by union members.
A statement provided by a company spokesperson Monday afternoon said they “are surprised by the GSU’s reaction” adding “the application of salary increases was confirmed with the mediator and reiterated by the GSU on its website. In addition, this application is consistent with the past several collective agreements.”
Viterra also said the employees who were ineligible for the increase “were new hires and were notified in their letters of employment they would not be eligible for an increase. Again, the eligibility is consistent with past collective agreements, was confirmed with the mediator during the negotiations, and was also reiterated by the GSU on their website – where the GSU encouraged employees to review their employment offer letters to determine their eligibility. The GSU’s website communication states: “The Final Offer states that eligible members will receive it, and your hire date and what is in your Letter of Offer should determine your eligibility”.
The company’s response comes a few days after the Grain Services Union released their own statement late Friday afternoon about the issue over pay. The retroactive wage increase was part of a deal ratified by members of GSU Locals 1 & 2 on January 19. General Secretary of the GSU Steve Torgerson said in an interview with SaskAgToday Friday that they told members to double check the math once they received their paychecks on January 31, the day the company was to make the payments. Some members came back saying they got nothing or the full amount but only for a portion of the year. He previously noted this affects about 25 percent of members between Locals 1 & 2.
Torgerson says they’re looking at all available options to enforce this part of the deal.
“We’re looking at getting some legal advice on this process because the final agreement hasn’t been signed and we all know that we can sort of come to an agreement on a lot of things but until the final legal document signed it may not be fully binding,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s the path we’re going to take but I think we have to take a look at all options up to, and including, unfair labour practices, filing grievances, and having members express their discontent and frustration with their employer.”
Torgerson noted the issue was noticed during the process to incorporate the agreement into the collective agreement. The deal members ratified last month was a 4 year deal with, among other things, an overall salary increase of 13.25 percent spread out over the lifespan of the deal.