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Hundreds of Regina Co-op Refinery workers locked out

Employees of the Co-op Refinery hit the picket line after being locked out by their employer, Thursday. .
Employees of the Co-op Refinery hit the picket line after being locked out by their employer, Thursday. .

Around 800 employees of Regina’s Co-op Refinery were locked out Thursday, days after issuing a strike notice to Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

The employees began picketing in front of the refinery at around 4:30 p.m., an hour before employees were locked out.

“We’re going to continue to support the fact we’ve been locked out, and we expect the operations to not have scab workers, working,” said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator for Unifor Local 594.

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READ MORE: Regina Co-op Refinery will lock out employees if necessary

Doherty joined employees on the picket line where hundreds gathered around various gates surrounding the refinery.

Employees will be picketing “24-hours a day, seven days a week until this is resolved,” Doherty said.

“This will be resolved when the Co-op Refinery decides to take their concessions off the table. We’re not going to take concession from an employer that made $2.5 billion in the last three years; made $1 billion this year, and they’re asking for concessions that are ridiculous.”

Unifor said it wants to give employees the option to remain in the current defined benefit plan or switch to a defined contribution plan.

They described FCL’s defined benefit offer as a “gutted” version of the original.

READ MORE: U of R professor educating public on health, safety of refinery

FCL maintains it is offering employees a fair deal, adding that its offer includes an 11.75 per cent compensation increase over four years.

The Co-op Refinery said they locked out their employees because they felt the union is creating an unsafe operating environment.

Work camps have been set up at the refinery to house temporary workers.

The refinery will not be operating at the same capacity as before. Doherty said this will impact the local economy.

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“Businesses, in general, in Regina will be hurting and it’s unnecessary,” Doherty said as “the money this group puts into the economy” will now be less.

READ MORE: ‘We’re not going’: Unifor declines Co-op Refinery’s invitation to return to table

He added that the 800 employees are out of a paycheck now that they’ve been locked out.

“There’s no reason for this, the employer is making good money,” Doherty said.