UFCW Local 1400 union workers voted in favour of the offer made by their employer, ending the Saskatoon Co-op labour dispute Tuesday.

The main sticking point has been a two-tiered system the company wants to introduce where future employees would not be on the same wages and benefit scale as current employees.

Rod Gillies, director of negotiations, says the second tier wage system still exists, but the wage gap between the two tiers has been reduced.

“Staff is heading back to work as early as Sunday and the union’s efforts are focusing on working with Co-Op to create a smooth transition back on the job.”

The union and management met with a mediator late last week and came up with the tentative agreement Sunday.

Wages will increase two per cent over three years.

Co-op employees walked the picket line since November of last year.

Scott Walsworth, a labour expert with the Edwards School of Business, said it’s difficult to be competitive in the retail food industry without a lower cost model for wages.

The Co-Op workplace is divided between those who wanted to continue fighting a two-tier wage structure and those who wanted to get back to work, he said.

"The employer was doing exactly what we've asked them to do, and that was run this business and make it viable. And the union did what they're supposed to do, they pushed back and some sort of compromise was reached, finally. It took a long time though.