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Co-op Refinery lockout gets ugly as dispute becomes physical

January 24, 2020   Don Horne




Unifor’s latest attempt to return to the bargaining table has been rebuked by Federated Co-operatives Limited, (FCL) as the impasse continues to escalate.

“We informed the employer that we were prepared to make a proposal to bring a resolution to the dispute, including modifying our position on the two contentious pension demands the employer said were impeding talks and they still refuse to meet us at the bargaining table,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president at a news conference in Regina, Sask. “It’s becoming abundantly clear that when FCL locked out Local 594 members on December 5, they had no intention of ever trying to negotiate a fair settlement.”

The employer stated they will only return to the bargaining table if the union removed all barriers to the refinery. The union agreed to this “if FCL removed all scabs from the workplace.”

FCL refused this offer.

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“What is their excuse now for not meeting to get a deal and end this dispute.  The only conclusion we can draw is that they don’t want to hear our offer because they think they can sit back while the Regina Police does their dirty work,” said Dias.

Even further escalation now appears inevitable after the arrest of Dias and 13 other Unifor picketers on January 20, 2020. Labour leaders from several national unions have since come to Regina, along with hundreds of union activist to help Unifor Local 594 members hold the picket line.

Unifor is filing a complaint with the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission over the aggressive conduct of the Regina Police Service.  According to Unifor, several Unifor members, including women, were shoved and pushed and one member was struck by a U-Haul truck with a flat driven by police officers.

“Today we are asking Saskatchewan labour minister and the premier to intervene and appoint a mediator and help us end this 49-day dispute that is escalating by the minute.” said Dias. “The only way to end this dispute is to return to the bargaining table and Federated Co-operatives Limited knows this.”

Hundreds of activists continue to arrive in Regina to support Unifor Local 594 members in their fight with the Co-op Refinery, in what labour leaders are calling “a pivotal moment in Canada’s labour movement.”


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