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Unifor launches nationwide boycott of Co-op retailers

December 15, 2019 - 12:00 AM

REGINA—As a result of Co-op Refinery’s lockout of nearly 800 workers trying to protect their pension plan, Unifor is calling for a nationwide boycott of all business and services of the Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), the refinery’s owner.

“If Co-op wants to hit refinery workers with a lockout, it’s time to hit Co-op where it hurts,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Local co-ops must speak out to the FCL board and use their power to end this lock out and get refinery workers a fair contract and the pension they were promised by FCL just two years ago.”

FCL is owned by more than two hundred co-op retailers across the country that are now profiting from the use of scab labour. Unifor’s boycott campaign will involve television ads, radio ads, billboards, direct mail, a petition, and secondary pickets at retail locations across Canada.

The television ad will air in prime time in Western Canada, including during the highly rated men’s World Junior Hockey Championships over the holidays. Go to BoycottCo-op.ca for more information.

“How much profit is enough? Co-op Refinery clears $3 million every day when Unifor members are on the job. There is no financial case for attacking the hard-earned pensions of refinery workers,” said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator and Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “Co-op senior leadership is abandoning the principles that attracted Canadians to become members. Now, Canadians deserve to know the unbridled corporate greed that FCL represents today.”

Negotiations hit an impasse when Co-op demanded massive concessions on pensions, despite an explicit commitment during the last round of bargaining to maintain the current pension plan.

800 members of Unifor Local 594 cover 21 different job classifications at the profitable refinery.

“If Co-op is so concerned about sustainability, why are they allowing a small group of managers and underqualified replacement workers to operate the refinery, jeopardizing both safety and production,” asked Kevin Bittman, President of Unifor Local 594. “Why waste millions to fly in scabs and supplies by helicopter when we would rather be back at work.”

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at Ian.Boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).