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Co-op Refinery using helicopters to transport staff, supplies into Regina plant

Co-op Refinery using helicopters to transport staff, supplies into Regina plant
It's day five of the lockout at the Co-op Refinery, and pushback on the picket lines is forcing Co-op to look to the sky for solutions.

Helicopters are being used to transport staff and supplies into the Co-op Refinery in Regina due to “inappropriate and dangerous” behaviour by Unifor Local 584 members, according to the company.

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The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) released a statement on Sunday night expressing their concerns over staff safety and fuel supply.

“We stop the buses because we don’t think having scabs coming into the plant is right,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 president.

“Not once have we said no to managers. If they want to get managers into the plant, they should be contacting us to set up a protocol on how to get the managers in.”

The two sides are in a dispute over their contract — staff have been on the picket lines since Thursday.

READ MORE: Locked out employees of Co-op Refinery concerned about safety of community

CRC claims their fill-in employees have been “harassed, accosted and verbally abused when crossing picket lines.”

“They talk about disrespect on the lines, but I have never seen any of that,” Bittman said.

“We had people dancing and in good spirit. There was nothing, but respect.”

According to CRC’s statement, Unifor members have held up food shipments while blocking shipments of parts needed to run the refinery safely.

READ MORE: Construction begins on work camp at Co-op Refinery, amid standstill

Unifor members are also being accused of disrupting CRC’s fuel trucks from coming in and out of the refinery.

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CRC said they are working hard to move fuel safety, despite the disruption.

“They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to use helicopters to get in the plant,” Bittman said.

“For us, it’s a sign that our spirits are high and the company sees that.”

CRC and Unifor members are in disagreement over pension options and have been without a contract since Feb. 1, 2019.