Saskatoon

Striking Saskatoon Co-op workers to vote on new agreement today

Hundreds of workers at the Saskatoon Co-op will head to the polls today to vote on a tentative agreement.

Workers on strike since November, agreement reached Sunday

Workers walked the picket line in front of the Saskatoon Co-op grocery store on Monday. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Hundreds of workers at the Saskatoon Co-op will head to the polls today to vote on a tentative agreement.

The Co-op and the union signed a tentative agreement early Sunday morning to potentially end a strike that has dragged on since Nov. 1.

While neither side would comment on the new agreement, workers initially went on strike over a proposed two-tier wage structure that would pay new employees less money.

A professor at the University of Saskatchewan told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning that, if employees do agree to return to work, there will be a lot of work to do repairing relationships.

"I think we will see some handshaking between the union and the employer in the days to come to try to restore peace in the workplace," said Scott Walsworth, professor of Labour and Industrial Relations at the Edwards School of Business.

Walsworth said that while tensions can become high between both sides during a strike, he expects workers and management will quickly find common ground if the dispute is settled.

"Certainly the union doesn't want to see conflict in the workplace," he said. "The union then wants to become a partner in the workplace."

While it's important to fix relationships between staff and workers, Walsworth said it's also important to mend fences with the public after such a lengthy strike.

 "It's important to regain trust with their customers, and they can do that by greeting customers and making sure they're very careful to answer their questions," he said.

"It gives workers and employers a common goal."

Voting will stretch into Tuesday night. It's not clear when results will be released.

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