Approaching two months in the Co-op Refinery lockout, both sides are ready to meet at the bargaining table.
Representatives from Federated Co-op Ltd. (FCL) and Unifor have scheduled talks for 9 a.m. Friday, according to a press release sent by the union.
“At 5 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), Unifor agreed to comply with the injunction concerning the Co-op Refinery picket line if Federated Co-operatives Limited returns to the bargaining table in good faith. The company responded and agreed to those terms,” Unifor said.
FCL confirmed it will “resume formal bargaining discussions,” based on a “mutual understanding” between the two groups.
“Unifor will follow Justice McMurtry’s final court injunction order, allowing all vehicles entry and exit from the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC). This includes all CRC gates, the Refinery Business Office and McDonald Street Terminal,” FCL said in a press release.
Picketers can delay traffic in and out of the refinery for up to 10 minutes or until the drivers ask to be let through, according to the court order.
“We are still going to man those picket lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with hundreds of activists,” said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to Unifor’s national president.
Doherty said the mutual understanding does not impact the picket lines that have spread to Carseland, Alta. and Winnipeg.
“That’s continuing, that hasn’t stopped and that wasn’t part of any requirement to get back to the bargaining table,” Doherty said.
While the union said it’s “optimistic” it can strike a deal with FCL, Unifor wants a backup plan in place.
Roughly 100 union members rallied outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building Thursday, calling on Premier Scott Moe to step in if an agreement isn’t reached.
“This has been a long dispute and it’s been a bitter dispute, so we want Moe to pay attention to what’s happening,” Doherty said. “Show some leadership and impose binding arbitration and end this shameful lockout.”
On Wednesday, the province said it only became aware of Unifor’s request through media reports.
“The government has not received a formal proposal from Unifor requesting binding arbitration and would need to receive more detail on what (Unifor) is proposing before responding,” the province said in an email.
Both FCL and Unifor said they will not comment on negotiations until a deal is reached.
But if talks break down, Unifor said it will re-escalate its tactics.
“If we don’t bargain a deal over the next few days those barricades will go back up and we’ll continue the fight,” Doherty said.
Unifor represents some Global News employees across the country.