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Unifor accused of breaking court order, vandalizing trucks at Regina’s Co-op refinery

Unifor accused of breaking court order, vandalizing trucks at Regina’s Co-op refinery
WATCH: Truck drivers heading in and out of the Co-op refinery in Regina say striking Unifor members are defying a court order and vandalizing vehicles.

Some truckers driving in and out of the Co-op Refinery in Regina are accusing Unifor picketers of violating their court order.

Last week, an order was issued to Unifor saying the union couldn’t hold up drivers for more than 10 minutes. The time frame was to give the union an opportunity to provide information to the drivers regarding the dispute with the refinery, without causing unnecessary or unreasonable delays.

Driver being held up at Co-op refinery in Regina
Driver being held up at Co-op refinery in Regina

However, the court order also said if the drivers didn’t want to hear the information, the union would have to let them pass right away. Drivers complain that union members have been holding them up for 10 minutes with or without their permission.

READ MORE: Court order aims to ease rising tensions between Unifor, Regina’s Co-op Refinery

“Yes, we are going to continue to hold people up for 10 minutes, and provide people the information. They don’t necessarily have to like what we’re saying, or have to listen to it, but it is our right in our interpretation of the law,” said Scott Doherty, Unifor National president executive assistant.

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“We’re going to listen to what the judge had to say in the order, and we’re going to adhere to the law, but we’re going to continue to do what we’re legally allowed to do while being locked out by Co-Op.”

Delays are not the only accusation being pinned on Unifor. Evan Grant, Len Grant Trucking’s maintenance manager, claims picketers have also been vandalizing their trucks.

Evan Grant claims Unifor picketers have blown one of his truck’s air bag.
Evan Grant claims Unifor picketers have blown one of his truck’s air bag. Provided : Evan Grant

“We’ve had a couple slashed airbags and we’ve had a DEF tank that was contaminated which caused a bad day for the driver trying to get the truck back and then having to get it fixed and back on the road,” Grant said.

“It’s just an added stress. It’s another thing for the driver to deal with and for us to deal with.”

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Chad Heibein, owner of Heibein’s Transport Ltd. and who Co-op contracts, said their drivers found what they believe to be spikes in their tires early Tuesday morning.

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READ MORE: Co-op Refinery takes Unifor Local 594 to court over picketing concerns

“They just loaded at MacDonald Street terminal in the middle of the night there, and they left, and by the time they got to the Cardlock – the Co-Op Cardlock – one already had half a flat tire, and the other one went to sleep and they both woke up [to find] these — man-made, twisted sharpened metal that were welded together to do nothing but deflate tires,” Heibein said, describing spikes that were found in the tires.

“If you’re going down the road and the steering tire comes off the rim, it basically results in you going in the ditch. It could result in a rollover, you know, we had 58,000 liters of gas on. Potentially that could be on the ground, start fires, explosions whatever; very dangerous.”

Chad Heibein, owner of Heibein’s Transport Ltd., said this was just one of a few spikes found in one of his trucks.
Chad Heibein, owner of Heibein’s Transport Ltd., said this was just one of a few spikes found in one of his trucks. Provided / Chad Heibein
The spikes look to be about three inches long.
The spikes look to be about three inches long.

The RPS confirmed they received reports of vandalism and are investigating

The Union denies all accusations.

“There’s no accuracy, there’s absolutely no evidence of this. We have not had any conversations – that I’m aware of anyways – with Regina police or anybody else that our members or anybody else from the public is doing anything other than our legal right to stop people on the picket line,” Doherty said.

“We expect things to be done peacefully and lawfully on picket lines and whenever there is job action. Obviously, we expect that to continue to happen, I don’t know anything about these spikes or anything else.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Trucking Association demands ‘respect for truck drivers’ at Co-op Refinery

Heibein said he understands the union’s anger, but said his workers still have a job to do and is looking for a little more respect.

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“Of course they’re frustrated. This has been going on a long time and we’re just stuck in the middle of it,” Heibein said.

“We’re making less money than we’ve ever made and doing twice as much work and got mad drivers and everybody’s frustrated. Just trying to make the best of it, but they make it pretty hard.”

The two sides have been in a dispute over pensions and have been picketing since Dec. 6, 2019.

Doherty said he hasn’t had any conversations since early on in the lockout, but plans to reach out to Co-ops lead negotiator sometime in the New Year.