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Talks break off between Unifor and Co-op

February 1, 2020 - 12:00 AM

REGINA—Federated Co-operatives Limited’s newest refusal to bargain in good faith demonstrates a new level of company dishonesty, says Unifor.

“Saskatchewan workers have the right to stand up to greedy employers like this one— but Co-op continues to add new concessions to attack refinery workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Rogue Co-op executives never had any intention of bargaining- Premier Moe needs to wake up and show some leadership.”

As promised, Unifor removed fences at refinery gates in order to let fuel trucks enter before negotiations began at 9 a.m. yesterday. The union bargained in good faith while the company tabled new concessions.

“We don’t usually see this level of desperate cuts on the table unless a company is operating at a dramatic loss, but that’s not the case here, at all. Co-op’s Regina Refinery makes $3 million dollars every day when Local 594 members are at work,” said Dias. “The Co-op’s bargaining position is not about money, it is about breaking the spirit of its own workforce.”

During today’s negotiations, Unifor tabled new proposals that would have increased refinery worker personal pension contributions to up to six per cent of earnings, saving the company millions. There were no new union-side demands included in the proposal.

When Co-op responded, it refused the union’s proposals and offered new concessions that would have affected scheduling and safety, in addition to current concession demands to slash the pensions and benefits. 

After talks broke off, Local 594 President Kevin Bittman and Dias wrote to Premier Scott Moe asking him to impose binding arbitration. During the process of binding arbitration the lockout would end, allowing Local 594 members to return to work. 

“With each passing day we are contacted by more people and organizations expressing their support for our fight,” said Bittman. “Canadians support oil and gas workers and our contribution to communities and the economy.”

Nearly 800 highly skilled members of Unifor Local 594 remain locked out from the Co-op Refinery, which continues to rely on unqualified scab workers and managers to operate the refinery.

Fences were put back up at refinery gates last night after talks broke off once again.

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.