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No deal reached: Unifor restores blockade around Regina’s Co-op Refinery

Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president of Unifor, speaks to a crowd outside the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina Friday night.
Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president of Unifor, speaks to a crowd outside the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina Friday night. Unifor Canada / Twitter

The fences are back up.

Friday night, members of Unifor restored their blockade around the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) after the two sides failed to come to an agreement at the bargaining table.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to Unifor’s National President, outside the refinery at around midnight.

“There’s not a truck coming out of this facility again until we get a fair deal. And I don’t care how many cops they bring here — we’ll bring more [members].”

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

At 9 a.m. Friday the two sides met at the bargaining table for the first time since CRC locked out nearly 800 of its employees on Dec. 5.

By 6 p.m., the talks had failed.

Unifor accused CRC of adding additional concessions to their original proposal that would have eliminated in-scope positions including master operators and maintenance workers.

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According to Doherty, the union presented two proposals to CRC that would have saved the company $20 million over the term of the collective agreement. Members were also willing to contribute six per cent to their pensions, Doherty said.

“They responded to that by saying they have zero interest in our proposal,” said Doherty, who said Unifor’s proposal aligned with what’s in the national energy pattern.

According to Doherty, the union didn’t receive a counter-proposal.

“Now more than ever it’s evident this greedy employer has no interest in getting a deal,” Doherty said. “They have every interest in trying to break this union and making this union not have a pension plan.”

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CRC did not comment on the details of their proposal. But they say they’re confident there is a path to a deal.

“It was always going to take more than one day to close the gap between the two parties, and we encourage Unifor to return to the table,” said Brad DeLorey, spokesperson for CRC in a statement.

The employer says they were prepared to bargain for as long as it took, but further discussions can not take place since the blockades are back up.

“We are willing to talk and are hopeful the bargaining will resume in the near future,” said DeLorey.

Following Friday’s failed talks, Doherty made a call to action to unions across Canada.

“This is an attack on the labour movement, so the labour movement better get to the table and start to support us,” said Doherty. “Every single union better come to Regina and stand with all these workers as we fight back from a greedy right-wing corporation that is Co-op.”

The barricade around the refinery was first erected on Jan. 20 where 14 people were arrested and charged for mischief, including Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

The union took the barricade down Friday in an agreement with the employer that required the two sides to meet.

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READ MORE: Unifor, Co-op bargaining meeting set based on ‘mutual understanding’

On Saturday Unifor sent a formal request to Premier Scott Moe asking him to impose binding arbitration.

The union also had a message for the Regina Police Service.

“My message to the mayor and police – don’t let this … greedy, corporation make them do your dirty work,” Doherty said.

“We were fair and made an offer that would have ended this dispute. We didn’t have to.”

Global News has reached out to the Regina Police Service and the premier’s office for comment.

A division of Unifor represents some Global news employees.

–With files from Allison Bamford.

Unifor, Co-op bargaining meeting set based on ‘mutual understanding’
Unifor, Co-op bargaining meeting set based on ‘mutual understanding’