Rogers Sugar Inc. says it is pausing negotiations after the union representing striking workers at its Vancouver refinery rejected the company’s latest offer.
Workers have been on strike since Sept. 28 over issues including wages, benefits and the company’s demand to increase refinery operations to 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Private and Public Workers of Canada Local 8 president Adrian Soldera said the latest breakdown of negotiations concerns Rogers’ demand for continuous operations at the refinery and mandatory 12-hour shifts for workers.
“They’ve given us different scheduling options but the issue from our membership is we have to give up our weekend time — which is family time — to come into work whereas before that wasn’t an option,” he said.
Rogers’ Vancouver plant is one of only three large sugar refineries in the country that processes imported cane sugar.
The strike has caused intermittent sugar shortages in Western Canada this fall.
The company says there is currently ample supply of white sugar in the market and it has restarted production of brown sugar at the Vancouver facility.
Rogers Sugar has been operating the Vancouver refinery at reduced capacity and says it has enough raw sugar on site to continue to do so until May 2024.
Soldera said the union bargaining committee is meeting to formulate a counter proposal.
“We want to get back to work but there are some things our workers are pretty set against from the company side,” he said.