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Co-op strike at 3-month mark
Published Friday, February 1, 2019 5:27PM CST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2019 6:40PM CST
While Co-op workers walk the picket line in freezing temperatures Friday, both sides appear to be entrenched on the number one issue - a two-tiered system where future employees would not have the same wages and benefits as current employees.
The company’s latest offer was rejected by the union in early January. There haven’t been any talks since and none are planned.
“It’s demoralizing,” says Co-op employee Jodi Smith as she walked the picket line Friday in Stonebridge. “It really is when you are out here for three months and there’s no effort from Co-op management to even get inside.”
The company told CTV News on Friday that its position hasn’t changed and would be willing to sit down to talk anytime under the right circumstances.
“We would be prepared to sit down and meet with the union on short notice and continue bargaining, but they’ve got to be committed to moving forward and not backwards in their proposals,” said Grant Wicks, CEO of Saskatoon Co-op.
The union says its invited the company back to the table on Wednesday but claim they haven’t heard back. The union also says it’s also open to arbitration but the company says it isn’t willing to do that. One expert says long strikes can weaken a union – though that’s not the sense he is getting from this strike.
“A strike can have the effect of bringing workers together and bolstering solidarity. Ultimately the popularity of the union depends on whether the union is successful in minimizing the differences between the two tiers,” said Scott Walsworth with Saskatoon’s Edwards School of Business.
The company says around 200 employees have crossed the picket line enabling some of its stores to remain open.