Unifor Local 594 was found in contempt of court and was handed a fine by a Regina judge on Wednesday.
They were fined $100,000 plus legal costs for violating a temporary injunction that limited traffic delays in and out of the Co-op Refinery to a maximum of five minutes. This temporary injunction was served to Unifor on Dec. 18 at 3:11 p.m. It was in effect until the current injunction was granted on Dec. 24, extending the traffic delay limit to 10 minutes.
This fine is not related to the blockade at the refinery that began on Monday.
Affidavits from Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) out-of-scope employees and associates detail five instances this temporary injunction was violated between Dec. 18 and Dec. 22.
The first violation took place around 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 when two managers attempted to leave the Refinery Business Offices (RBO) to transport parts to the refinery. They described being held up at the refinery’s Gate 2 for 50 minutes before abandoning their attempt to enter.
Two instances, first on Dec. 21 and again on Dec. 22, describe buses being held up at the refinery administration gates. In both these instances, affidavits describe Regina police attending the scene and requesting the buses move because they were blocking traffic.
The written decision from Justice Timothy J. Keene described the interim court order as clear and unequivocal.
Keene added that it appeared Unifor argued some sort of grace period should have been applied. Keene wrote that he found sufficient time to communicate the court order to the picket lines between when it was served at 3:11 p.m. on Dec. 18 and 7 p.m. when the first incident took place.
“The union would have had ample time to get the word out,” Keene wrote.
The decision says that uncontradicted evidence shows an “at times determined fashion” to ignore the court order. Keene noted that the affidavit evidence is backed up by video recordings.
Scott Doherty, assistant to Unifor’s national president, said the fine will not have an impact on its members.
He said Unifor will continue to put pressure on FCL to get back to the bargaining table.
“Courts are not going to end this dispute, police are not going to end this dispute. Co-op and Unifor are going to get in a room and negotiate a deal.”
The Co-op Refinery said they are pleased with the court’s ruling.
“This decision is reassuring as it demonstrates that our legal system works and that the rule of law will be upheld when individuals or organizations choose to subvert it,” said Brad Delorey, director of communications and public affairs with the Co-op Refinery Complex, in a statement.
“Unifor continues to engage in illegal activity today, but we hope that the fine and penalty levied against Unifor by the court today, together with the Court’s statement of ‘the need to follow court orders, particularly those intended to bring some level of stability to a tense labour dispute’, will serve to deter future illegal activity going forward.”
An interim injunction court order was placed on Unifor Local 594 on Dec. 24. It stated picketers can only stop people from entering and leaving the refinery for up to 10 minutes or until they express their desire to proceed past the picket line.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more information.
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