Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) filed an injunction against the union on Tuesday.
Court documents show the injunction “asserts picketers are obstructing access to and exit from their facilities” and also states “CCRL (Consumers’ Co-operative Refinery Limited) claims individual picketers have intimidated and assaulted persons attempting to cross the picket line.”
Speaking to Global News Wednesday, Unifor Local 594 President Kevin Bittman disagreed.
“They painted us as a picture that our picket lines are violent and being overzealous on the picket lines, but we haven’t seen any of that. It’s all just been positivity, and just walking and having a good time,” he said.
Reasoning that they did not receive enough notice to “fully respond” to the injunction, the union was successfully able to argue for an adjournment to Monday.
“We have a constitutional right to, you know, walk our picket lines, and they’re seeking to shut down all of our gates and stop us from having a peaceful demonstration,” Bittman said.
Court documents, though, show Justice Janet McMurtry saying “I accept that until a full hearing of the application, serious mischief would occur if I do not limit the right of picketers’ to communicate information to those wishing to receive it to a maximum of five minutes.”
Workers began picketing on Dec. 5 after they were locked out. Since then, the two sides have not been getting along.
Picketers have been accused of delaying trucks trying to get in and out of the plant, helicopters are being used to transport supplies and on Sunday, the union started picketing at Co-op gas stations — calling for a boycott on all Co-op products.
Speaking to Global News Wednesday afternoon, University of Regina Associate Professor of Industrial Relations Andrew Stevens said the outcome of the injunction oculd tip the balance of power in the dispute.
“This is using the courts to weaken the resolve of the workers, the union and the picket line. This is about power and a way of exercising the employer’s power through the courts.”
Global News reached out to Co-op and were told they wouldn’t be commenting during the court process.