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Unifor facing another contempt order, says they’ll take down blockades on 1 condition

Unifor facing another contempt order, says they’ll take down barricades on one condition
WATCH: Unifor, who is facing another contempt order, says they’ll take down the barricades surrounding Co-op facilities if they can get back to the bargaining table.

A day after Unifor Local 594 was served with a contempt of court order by the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC), the union says they’re willing to take down their blockades around Co-op facilities — but only if CRC meets them at the bargaining table.

“If Co-op agrees to meet with us at the table… then we will abide by the order at that time. We want a deal,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president.

In a statement to Global News, CRC said they’re encouraged by Unifor’s announcement.

“We have reached out to get clarification of their interpretation of compliance with the letter of Justice [Janet] McMurtry’s permanent court order. If we are in alignment, we’ll work to schedule a meeting as soon as practicable,” said Brad DeLorey, spokesperson for CRC.
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READ MORE: Unifor Local 594 travels to Manitoba, sets up blockade at Co-op fuel station

Unifor said if the two sides can’t agree to meet, Premier Scott Moe must impose binding arbitration.

In a statement, Moe said the government hasn’t received a formal proposal from Unifor and would need to receive more detail on what Dias is proposing before responding.

“The government continues to encourage both parties to respect orders of the court and to return to the bargaining table in order to reach a negotiated settlement,” Moe said in a statement.

Unifor has previously been fined $100,000 for breaching a temporary court injunction — which limited Unifor to holding up trucks for up to 5 minutes.

On Tuesday, Local 594, its president Kevin Bittman and another union member were served with a contempt order that alleges them of violating the Dec. 24 injunction essentially every day. That injunction limited traffic delays for up to 10 minutes.

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

Unifor has set up a barricade around Co-op’s Regina refinery and their fuel storage facility in Carseland, Alta. Furthermore, on Tuesday members of Local 594 blocked all Co-op trucks from entering Imperial Oil Refinery’s fueling depot outside of Winnipeg.

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Both sides have previously expressed their desire to get back to the bargaining table, but neither feel the other side is budging enough.

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) which owns the refinery previously said they’ll go back to the bargaining table when the barricades are removed. However, Unifor states they’ll be removed when FCL meets them at the table.

“Co-op thinks that this is going to end through the courts and the police,” said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to Dias. “We’re not going anywhere, we’re not being bullied to get a new collective agreement, we’re going to bargain a new, fair, collective agreement for these members.”

Earlier this week both sides sat down in Saskatoon for an informal meeting but no decision was made regarding bargaining.

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

FCL said Unifor continues “to escalate their illegal tactics which doesn’t provide the environment for productive bargaining.”

“We stated clearly our willingness to engage in meaningful conversations at the bargaining table, but reiterated our position that the rule of law must be followed,” said Heather Ryan, VP of Human Resources with FCL.

Dias remains firm Unifor wants a settlement.

“To FCL it seems to be all about power. It seems to be about them being the big dog in this community and they’re going to do what they want to do.”

Unifor represents some Global News employees across the country.