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Rogue Co-op execs use bargaining ploy to extend 60-day lockout

February 2, 2020 - 3:00 AM

February 3, 2020

REGINA- Unifor is ready to bargain a fair deal to end the 60-day lockout but executives at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) have proven they have no intent to bargain in good faith after their disrespectful conduct last Friday.

“We called their bluff last week, and refinery workers were disappointed once again that Co-op refused to bargain in good faith and did not even counter our proposal that included $20 million in pension savings to the company,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

On Friday at 9 a.m. all fences at refinery gates were removed as a condition to return to the bargaining table.

“They moved as many fuel trucks out as they could and had food and supplies brought in to replenish their scab camp. They stalled and stalled to make that happen before it became clear to us that this was just theatrics,” said Dias.

During Friday’s talks Unifor tabled a new proposal that would save the employer more than 20 million dollars. Refinery workers proposed contributing up to six per cent of earnings to their pensions, changes to pension solvency that would reduce the employers yearly special payments, and workers would be able to choose between the defined benefit pension and the new defined contribution plan.

FCL responded by asking for new concessions that would have affected scheduling and safety, in addition to current concession demands to gut pensions and benefits. 

“In all my years of bargaining, I have never seen such disrespect to workers, workers who unlike Co-op, do not have billions to spend on this dispute, so they will continue to take action with support from union members across Canada,” said Dias.

More union members from across Canada are coming to Regina this week to join the picket line.

Unifor remains hopeful that the Government of Saskatchewan will intervene and force both sides to binding arbitration before this protracted labour dispute causes more harm to Regina area families, farmers and Co-op members and retailers. 

Unifor representatives will be available to speak to news media after a rally at Gate 7 at 1 p.m. on the picket line. NDP  Leader Jagmeet Singh will be on the line to speak to Unifor 594 members.

Just the Facts

Recent bargaining:

  • On Wednesday January 29, after seven weeks of being locked-out, Unifor Local 594 reached out with an offer to return to the table, and sent a full monetary proposal for consideration.
  • The Parties returned to the table on January 31, after the company had the union’s written offer for two days, and the union allowed vehicles to have full access to the refinery.
  • The employer and union were at the table for 11 hours, while the employer stalled bargaining, in a ploy to restock supplies to the scab camp, and move fuel out of the facility. 
  • In the evening of January 31, Co-op told the Unifor 594 bargaining committee that it had “zero interest” in reviewing their monetary proposal.
  • Instead of engaging in good faith, Co-op proposed additional concessions, including a proposal that would have eliminated the Unifor Local 594 President’s position from the bargaining unit.

Unifor Local 594’s offer:

  • Included a 6% personal contribution rate to the pension plan.
  • The option for members to switch from the defined-benefit to the defined-contribution plan.
  • A proposal to adjust the plan’s solvency rules, in coordination with the provincial government. 

Co-op is union busting:

  • Co-op locked out Unifor Local 594 members on December 5, 2019.
  • Since the lockout, there has not been a comprehensive health and safety inspection, despite. multiple incidents being observed from the picket line.
  • Co-op has been flying in scab workers using helicopters, and has not stopped since.
  • Co-op Refinery in Regina generates $3 million a day in profit when Unifor members are at work.
  • The current scab camp was erected near the facility last October, during bargaining.
  • Co-op applied for the permit to build scab housing weeks before bargaining began last January.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews, please contact Unifor Communication Representative Hamid Osman at (647) 448-2823 or Hamid.Osman@unifor.org.