Unifor headed back to court over alleged violation, FCL says more action could be coming

Unifor erects blockade around Co-op’s fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta.
WATCH: Unifor members have set up a blockade around Co-op's fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta.

Correction: Unifor Local 594 has been served an application of contempt of court. The application alleges a violation of the judges order to only allow picketers to hold up traffic coming in and out of the refinery for a maximum of 10 minutes. The matter will be discussed in court on Tuesday.

A previous version of this story cited Scott Doherty, the executive assistant to Unifor’s national president. He told Global News a judge had already issued the violation.

Original story continues here…

This is the second violation order given to Local 594 during the labour dispute. Last week, the union was fined $100,000 for violating a five-minute restriction on traffic.

In a statement on Tuesday further court action was discussed. Cameron Zimmer, manager of communications and public relations for FCL, said “we are contemplating legal action to force Unifor to remove the blockades.”

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A blockade surrounding Federated Co-operated Limited’s (FCL) fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta., is preventing fuel from being delivered to Western Canada, according to the company.

On Saturday, picketers for Unifor erected fences around the terminal citing safety concerns for its members. As of Tuesday, the fences remain up.

“We’ve seen some really aggressive behaviour from truck drivers. As a result of that, we’ve erected some safety fencing to make sure our members are safe [on the picket line],” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s western regional director.

READ MORE: Unifor head meets with public safety minister to discuss Regina police response to blockade

The blockade is Unifor’s first in Alberta since workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) in Regina were locked out by FCL on Dec. 5.

“This particular location is getting fuel and products from the refinery in Regina. So because the company won’t come back to the bargaining table, we’re out here making sure that we’re peacefully picketing.”

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The blockade is related to an ongoing labour dispute surrounding pension security between the CRC and Unifor. A similar barricade surrounds the Regina refinery after fences were erected on Jan. 20. Picketers have since left an entrance open for emergency personnel.

FCL said Unifor is illegally blocking its facilities.

Unifor president Jerry Dias arrested as Co-op Refinery labour dispute escalates
Unifor president Jerry Dias arrested as Co-op Refinery labour dispute escalates

With over 135 million litres of storage, the Carseland facility is used to deploy fuel across Alberta and British Columbia using trucks. However, no trucks have been able to get in or out since Saturday.

“So far, none of our gas stations have run out of fuel, but these blockades are having a direct impact on those truckers and businesses,” said Cameron Zimmer, manager of communications and public relations for FCL in a statement. “We are contemplating legal action to force Unifor to remove the blockades.”

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Unifor was recently fined $100,000 for failing to adhere to an interim court order that limited traffic delays in and out of Co-op facilities to a maximum of five minutes.

READ MORE: ‘Greedy Co-op’: Unifor launches nationwide boycott of Co-op retailers

“We respect the union’s right to picket, share information and disrupt our normal course of businesses within the bounds set by the courts. But Unifor’s use of blockades and disregard for the rule of law go beyond peaceful picketing,” Vic Huard, FCL’s executive vice-president of customer experience and stakeholder engagement, said in a statement.

“We believe that Unifor does not understand the role the energy sector plays in driving our economy and sustaining vibrant communities across Western Canada.”

Unifor said it wants to go back to the bargaining table with FCL and are even willing to negotiate on pensions. However, FCL said the blockade must go first. In response, Unifor said it’ll remove the blockades the second FCL stops using replacement workers.

On Monday, Unifor and FCL sat down in Saskatoon for an informal meeting to discuss ending the dispute. Talks resumed on Tuesday, however, no announcement has been made regards to bargaining.

READ MORE: Unifor announces ‘informal meeting’ with refinery reps in Saskatoon

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“FCL has been avoiding getting into meaningful conversations and has really been trying to rely on the courts and police to do the work for them,” McGarrigle said.

“This dispute is only going to be settled at the bargaining table between the union and the company, and it’s time they get back to the table to get a deal for these workers.”

Tuesday marks Day 54 of the lockout.

Unifor represents some Global News employees across the country.