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Unifor asks Co-op to resume negotiations, maintains position on pension security

Unifor asks Co-op to resume negotiations, but maintains position on pension security
WATCH: Thirty-four days into the Regina Co-op refinery's lockout, the union has reached out to the company about going back to the bargaining table – but isn't willing to concede in the ongoing dispute over pension security. 

Thirty-four days into the Regina Co-op refinery’s lockout, the union has reached out to the company about going back to the bargaining table – but isn’t willing to concede in the ongoing dispute over pension security.

Scott Doherty, the executive assistant to Unifor’s national present, told reporters Tuesday that he made the request one day ago and is waiting to hear back from Federated Co-operatives Limited.

“If they don’t take the concessions off, we’re here on the line,” Doherty said at a rally outside the refinery.

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

Mediation between the two sides broke down in November. The company is requesting employees start contributing to their pension plans, which, up until now, they have not done.

In December, Unifor Local 594 had more than 700 members vote in favour of a strike. Citing safety concerns, the employer locked them out. They have been on the picket line ever since.

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“We’re going to continue to put pressure on Co-op,” Doherty said. “The employer does have the opportunity to have people choose to go to a DC (defined contribution) pension plan if they want to.”

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

Unifor’s rally was attended by some of its other executives from across the country. They put a call out to locals from coast to coast, requesting they send members to Regina in a show of solidarity.

The company, which has housed temporary workers on-site, alleges the union has been holding up vehicles transporting people and supplies into the refinery. It was granted an injunction that limits the time picketers can hold up trucks to 10 minutes. If the driver asks to pass earlier, the injunction stipulates the driver is to be allowed.

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

Drivers have told Global News that union members are not respecting those terms.

Brad DeLorey, Co-op’s communications director, said the company may seek a contempt of court order and is exploring legal options.