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Unifor Local 594 travels to Manitoba, sets up blockade at Co-op fuel station

About 30 members of Unifor Local 594 travelled to Manitoba to set up a blockade at the Imperial Oil refinery’s fueling depot.
About 30 members of Unifor Local 594 travelled to Manitoba to set up a blockade at the Imperial Oil refinery’s fueling depot. Malika Karim / Global News

Unifor Local 594 has made its way to Manitoba to disrupt the workflow of Co-op truck drivers.

About 30 members travelled to East Saint Paul, outside of Winnipeg, Tuesday night to set up shop at the Imperial Oil refinery’s fueling depot.

Unifor is blocking access to all Co-op trucks.

“We just want to send a message to Co-op that we’re prepared as a unit to go wherever we need to go to make our statement,” said John Harte, Unifor Local 594 member.

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

“We want to get back to the bargaining table to rectify the situation we have.”

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Workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) in Regina were locked out by Federated Co-operated Limited (FCL) on Dec. 5 over pension disputes.

Since then, blockades have been set up around the refinery. Other temporary blockades were placed at Co-op  sites in Weyburn, and another Co-op site on Fleet Street.

On Saturday, Unifor crossed the border into Alberta.

A blockade was erected at a FCL fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta., preventing fuel from being delivered to Western Canada, according to the company.

Unifor erects blockade around Co-op’s fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta.
Unifor erects blockade around Co-op’s fuel storage terminal in Carseland, Alta.

“People know why we are here. This has kind of gone national, our struggle. We are being attacked with our benefits, our pension plans,” Harte said.

“We’re here to make a stand that we’re not prepared to put up with it. These are hardworking members who deserve a pension and we are here to fight for that.”

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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.

On Tuesday, Unifor Local 594 was served another application of contempt of court.

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

The application alleges a violation of Justice T.J. Keene’s 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 argued in court on Feb. 4.

“Unifor has ignored an interim court injunction order, a final court injunction order and a contempt of court ruling,” said Heather Ryan, Vice-President of FCL’s Human Resources in a statement. “We agree with Justice Keene’s ruling, which found Unifor ‘intentionally and deliberately disobeyed the order.”

Wednesday marks Day 55 of the lockout.

“The workers are united. Our members have flown out from across the country to support this action. These workers deserve that,” Harte said.

“We’re a force to be reckoned with. We’re letting Co-op know enough is enough.”

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

Global News reached out to Co-op, they said they are looking into the situation at the Imperial Oil refinery. Tuesday Cameron Zimmer, manager of communications and public relations for FCL, said “we are contemplating legal action to force Unifor to remove the blockades” when responding to our inquiry about the Carseland, Atla. blockade.

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Unifor represents some Global News employees across the country.

With files from Mickey Djuric…