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Tensions escalate at Regina Co-op Refinery as van tries to cross picket line

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WATCH: The Co-op refinery lockout in Regina continues, but not without drama.

Picketers gathered at Gate 2 of the Co-op Refinery complex in Regina on Monday night, blocking a white van full of supplies from entering the facility for several hours.

Regina police were called by the company, said Supt. Lorilee Davies, who was on the scene when Unifor Local 594 members cleared a path to permit the van across the picket line around 8:30 p.m.

The police were there to help the two sides come to “some middle ground,” Davies said.

“We understand that the company has a right to conduct operations. The union obviously has a right to picket,” she said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Regina Co-op Refinery workers locked out

Unifor Local 594 members have been locked out by their employer since Dec. 5. Co-op has been flying supplies in by helicopter, citing “inappropriate and dangerous behaviour” from the employees, who were stopping buses with temporary workers from going through the gates.

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Unifor Local 594 president Kevin Bittman said sending the van out Monday night was a stunt.

“The company started this afternoon. They wanted to get some parts into the plant. We told them that we would more than be happy to do that but we wanted to know what parts were going in,” Bittman said in an interview after the van had entered the facility.

“We put a call out to members to come have a peaceful demonstration and they all showed up. We walked in front of the van until the company finally told us what was in the truck.

“It was just another stunt to try to incite violence.”

The company could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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

The union and the company are in a dispute over pension security. The company paid 100 per cent of the contribution toward the employees’ pensions, but now wants them paying in.

Unifor Local 594 represents about 800 refinery workers.

Bittman has said the members will keep picketing around the clock until that concession is off the table.

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